Lewiston-Auburn’s newest festival, which was held in late June 2008, is the Maine Grains & Grapes Festival. The festival is held at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, one of its organizers. The other organizers are the great folks at the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce. At the festival, you’ll be able to sample a variety of beers and wines, from a dozen and a half breweries and wineries – all from Maine. The samples are included in the price of admission. Food and coffee can be purchased separately. While you are taste-testing the samples of spirits, live music will keep you entertained. Attendees must be 21 years or older.

Throughout the summer, the Auburn Community Band, under the direction of Milt Simon, performs in a series of weekly outdoor concerts at Festival Plaza in downtown Auburn. These concerts are a 27-year tradition and occur on Wednesday evenings from June through August. The band has 45 members ranging in age from their teens to their 80s. The Auburn Community Band is one of the larger community bands in Maine and attracts close to 400 people to each weekly concert. Bring your own lawn chair.

The July 4th Liberty Festival focuses on family fun. You’ll find something to do on each side of the Lewiston-Auburn riverfront – visiting the food and gift vendors, going on a ride or two at the carnival, listening to an assortment of great musical entertainment – all leading up to a gigantic fireworks display over the Great Falls of the Androscoggin River.

Bates College offers free outdoor concerts, the Midsummer Lakeside Concert Series, which are open to the public. The concerts are on Thursday nights from July through August. Bring blankets or lawn chairs, non-alcoholic beverages, and a picnic so that you can enjoy the concerts al fresco in the amphitheater overlooking Lake Andrews. The music is family friendly. Bates College also has a series of free noonday concerts at its Olin Arts Center that typically last 30 minutes.

More than 30,000 people attend the Moxie Festival in Lisbon each year. The festival pays tribute to the famed Moxie soda, a drink with a unique bitter flavor. The soda was meant to be used as a nerve medicine in the late 1800s. Moxie actually outsold Coca-Cola when it was introduced as a soda. Moxie has some die-hard fans, which has created a whole Moxie culture of its own. The festival runs for three days in early July. Festival events in the past have included a car wash, cut-a-thon, book signings, open houses, food, carnival, fireworks and other fun activities. There are road and canoe races, in addition to a well-attended parade.

Festival FrancoFun, a festival run by the folks of the Franco-American Heritage Center, is held each year mid-summer. The Androscoggin Bank Colisee is the venue for the three-day event which includes musical entertainment, dancing, story telling, and meals all day, each day of the festival. The festival celebrates the Franco culture. Be prepared for a lot of fun and good food!

The annual Great Falls Balloon Festival, which is held the third weekend in August, offers balloons, balloons, balloons! There’s also a fireworks display and balloon moonglow on Friday night. The fun happens on both sides of the river – in Lewiston’s Simard & Payne Park and Auburn’s Festival Plaza. The best times for balloon launches are 6 a.m. for morning launches and 6 p.m. for evening launches. Times may vary depending on conditions. Moon glows – hot air balloons tethered and lit up with propane – will be displayed Friday and Saturday evenings at downtown activity areas as weather permits.

Mid-September features the Greek Festival, a fun time of which its organizers from the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Hogan Road in Lewiston say, “Once a year, everybody is Greek.” In previous years, the festival has been held over one, two or three days. About 6,500 people attended the festival in 2007. The festival is the place to enjoy Greek music, dancing (with lessons!), food, taverna, craft bazaar, and tours of the church. Some of the Greek food favorites include spinach pie (spanikopita), Greek sandwiches known as gyros, a dish of eggplant layered with ground beef and topped with béchamel sauce (mousaka), and, of course, the famous Greek pastries such as baklava.

Auburn holds one of the best Winter Festivals each year in February. The actual date depends on the weather and if there’s enough of the white stuff on the ground for the activities. Local companies are represented by teams of their employees in some of the events that take place during the three-day festival. Courageous festival-goers can try their hand racing down the slopes at Lost Valley – in a canoe or on a shovel! Dance to the daily and nightly musical entertainment in the lodge. Enjoy some easy sledding, stand around the bonfire, or watch board and ski freestyle demonstrations. On the shore of Lake Auburn at Central Maine Community College you’ll find additional family-friendly activities which include snowshoe lessons, ice sculpture, and a snow playground. Come on out and enjoy the winter with friends and family!

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