LEWISTON — Big horns. Tall socks. Sharp-looking hats.

Nope, not the attire of Imari and the Sahara Desert Dancers, but the Oktoberfest German Band. Both acts took to the stage in Lewiston during the Great Falls Balloon Festival on Saturday night.

With the evening balloon launch canceled due to concerns about high winds and potential thunderstorms, festival-goers settled for pictures of the kids in grounded baskets and soaking in the general atmosphere.

“I like that kind of music. Every song has a melody and a good beat,” said Claudette Lemay of Lewiston. She said the German- and Austrian-influenced polkas and waltzes of the Oktoberfest band were right up her alley. She even joined the chorus of the “beer-barrel polka,” apparently a well-known anthem.

“Every year you get to walk around and see a lot of friends,” she said of the festival. “And it’s free! What do we have that’s free these days?”

As the band played on, the crowd swelled in anticipation of the next act: Imari and the Sahara Desert Dancers. The eight Oktoberfest musicians appreciated the super-sized audience.

“Thanks for coming and paying attention to us; not everybody does that,” the trombone-playing maestro shouted.

By the time the sun fell, the feathers rose. Adorned in traditional costume, the two dozen members of Imari’s belly-dancing troupe, too numerous for the stage, gathered in front of the crowd with brightly colored feather fans raised in the air. High-energy bass beats pulsed in the humid air as the show began.

Doreen Poulin of Auburn praised the dancers and said she wished the lighting were better.

“You can’t get the real feeling of their performance, because it’s really their costumes and faces that express everything,” she said. Poulin said she’s used to working at the festival on behalf of her son, a former Boy Scout.

“I feel like I should be picking up after everyone,” she said, as the balloon crews fired flames into the air, much to the delight of the crowd.

Poulin said she was happy she got up early to catch the balloons.

“They were beautiful this morning,” she said. “I took a lot of pictures and got some great ones of them reflecting off the water.”

[email protected]

The Planet Cheer All Stars of Lewiston thrill a crowd of hundreds with high-flying routines at the Great Falls Balloon Festival on Saturday.

Ryan Fitzsimons, left, and Brock Naylor of the Maine McDonald’s Up Team perform aerobatics on their jumping stilts at the Great Falls Balloon Festival on Saturday.

The group Trailer Trash of South Paris perform “American music” at the Great Falls Balloon Festival on Saturday. From left are Ellen Lindsey, Paul Dube and Eric Grenier.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.