NORWAY – Plans are progressing for the Norway Summer Festival, which will have a new twist this year, organizers said.

Lisa Moore, chairwoman of the Summer Festival Committee, said Monday that a free public concert featuring the band StreamReggae will be held Saturday evening, July 8, behind the Fare Share Co-op on Main Street.

The festival’s biggest day will be Saturday, but events are also scheduled for Friday, July 7, and Sunday, July 9.

Moore said the reggae concert is part of the committee’s efforts to contain most of the events to Main Street. Part of the parking lot behind Fare Share will be closed so concert-goers can dance, and the band will perform on a makeshift stage, she said.

“We’re trying to keep more of the festival on downtown Main Street, rather than spread it out in the Norway/South Paris area,” she said. “We just wanted to try something different that was free. We’re hoping to pull in the neighborhood and the town.”

The festival this year also will offer traditional favorites, including the sidewalk art show and book sale that kick off on Saturday at 9 a.m., poetry reading, a fiddle jam and other musical performances, children’s activities, and lots of culinary indulgences ranging from hot dogs to Italian ice.

About 80 to 90 artists are expected to exhibit their works this year. In addition, the annual 5K road race sponsored by Healthy Oxford Hills and a Norway/Paris Kiwanis pancake breakfast will be held Sunday.

This year’s focus figure is Lajos Matolcsy, a Hungarian immigrant who was an influential artist and teacher and after whom the Matolcsy Art Center is named. A series of lectures focusing on Matolcsy is being planned by staff at the Norway Memorial Library.

A focus figure is chosen every year by festival planners to highlight Norway’s history.

The Norway Summer Festival, hosted by Norway Dowtown Revitalization, began 34 years ago as the Norway Sidewalk Art Show. Over the past several years, the art show expanded into the festival, and Moore said committee members have grown more comfortable with the planning and organization of the popular event.

“I think this year the committee feels a lot of confidence because we’ve done it before and we’re working with a core group of people with experience,” she said. “It doesn’t feel as intimidating when a lot of us were new to it.”

Roy Gedat, board member of Norway Downtown Revitalization, said the festival this year is estimated to cost about $8,750. Gedat said he will seek corporate sponsors to raise $2,000 to offset the festival’s costs.

The festival raises most of its money by entry fees paid by the artists. Gedat said the festival posted a small profit last year.

“We made money (last year) by the skin of our teeth, but it was the first time in many years we didn’t lose money,” he said. “We’re continuing to grow it and make it part of the attraction for people coming to visit Norway.”

Gedat said a community supper is being planned where people can come and eat and make a donation to the festival. A date for that is not yet scheduled, he said.

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