CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT

Western Maine entices with its quality of life amenities found in the region’s rugged, natural beauty, friendly residents, and many community events that tie everything together.

This annual event, the Northern New England Home, Garden and Flower Show, is held at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds in May and brings together home and garden pros with the latest in services and products. The Wilton Blueberry Festival is just one of many annual events that celebrate one of Maine’s most delicious products. Saddleback Mountain hosts many events year-round in addition to skiing, including a summertime Bluegrass Festival. Every year the Bethel area hosts a Harvestfest & Chowdah Cook-off in September. The Ossipee Valley Music Festival in Hiram usually has over 30 national touring and regional artists performing bluegrass, acoustic, Americana and roots music on multiple stages. The annual Andover Old Home Days Celebration offers diverse attractions such as a parade, antique car displays, art and flower shows, crafts, firemen’s muster, a horse show, and plenty of food and music. There’s even a festival that celebrates the moose — Moose Mainea’s month-long list of activities include Moose River Canoe Race, Moosterpiece Craft Fair, Kid’s Fun Day, Famous Moose Tales, a Quest Fest, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Moose Photo Contest. One of the prettiest festivals around celebrates the lilac — the McLaughlin Garden Lilac Festival held in South Paris in May is a 4-day celebration with walks through the Garden, demonstrations, food and lilac items for sale. The Kingfield Pops Festival occurs in June and is the premier music event of the summer. The Great Falls Balloon Festival is held in August each year on the banks of the Androscoggin River and parks in the Twin Cities downtown areas and offers food booths, craft and trade booths, entertainment, live music, a carnival, demonstrations, contests, and hot air balloon rides.

ARTS & MUSEUMS

The Bethel Art Fair held in July showcases fine art on exhibit and for sale; also music, theatrical performances, and food. Visit the Bethel Historical Society, Moses Mason House Museum, while you’re in Bethel and learn about the area’s history through documents and artefacts. Other communities with historical societies that give a glimpse into the past include Bridgton, Canton, Dixfield, Farmington, Harrison, Mexico, Phillips, Parsonfield-Porter, Dead River Area in Stratton, and Weld. There are many unique, themed museums in the area, including the Bryant Pond Telephone Museum, the Nordica Homestead Museum in Farmington, the Stanley Museum in Kingfield which is themed around the Stanley steam engine, the Wilhelm Reich Museum in Rangeley which focuses on the biological energy work of its namesake, the Acadian Heritage Society in Rumford, the Jones Museum of Glass & Ceramics in Sebago, the Finnish-American Heritage Society of Maine in West Paris, and the Wilton Farm and Home Museum.

Theaters & cinemas

Celebration Barn Theatre, South Paris, 743-8452, www.celebrationbarn.com

Deertrees Theater, Harrison 583-6747, www.deertreestheatre.org

Lakeside Youth Theater, Rangeley, 864-5000

Lakewood Theater, Skowhegan, 474-7176, www.lakewoodtheater.org

Rangeley Friends of the Arts, 864-3900, www.rangeleyarts.com

The Oddfellow Theater, Buckfield, 336-3306, www.oddfellow.com

OTHER:

Foothills Arts Center in Wilton brings together children and adults, artists and audiences to share the arts in an atmosphere that encourages learning, exploration and collaboration. The FAC brings curriculum-based arts programs into schools and involves people of all ages and walks of life in arts programs that build a sense of community. FMI, call 645-7117 or visit www.foothillsarts.org

Franklin County Arts is devoted to providing information about visual, traditional, literary and performing arts in Franklin County, home to hundreds of people, organizations and businesses involved in the fine arts, music, theater, writing & publishing, traditional crafts and other creative endeavors. FMI, visit www.franklincountyarts.org.

The Arts Institute of Western Maine is a non-profit organization which sponsors public performances of music – chamber, classical; vocal from folk to German lieder to opera arias to broadway show tunes. Occasionally jazz, dance, mime. Farmington. FMI, visit artsinstitute.org

SPORTS & RECREATION

In the winter, create some great memories with a sleigh ride at High View Farm in Harrison. Sunday River Ski Resort, in Newry, has great skiing and other types of entertainment and activities in the winter and year-round. Try skijoring or mushing with the Maine Lakes Musher’s group which holds a winter carnival in Bridgton. Head north to Rangeley for the Rangely Lakes Snowmobile Snodeo for some winter fun, a chili-chowder cook-off, casino night, dancing, and more. The Sebago Lake Ice Fishing Derby in February includes a Polar Dip, hot air balloons, helicopter rides, a fly-in and a Speed Run. Black Mountain of Maine holds its Winter Fest in March and includes entertainment with live music, ski and snowboard events, horse drawn wagon rides, dog sled rides, and a summit barbecue. The Sugarloaf Mountain Reggae Fest in Carrabassett Valley in April is one of the biggest and best annual reggae parties with spring skiing in the East. The Logging Museum Festival Days in Rangeley includes bean-hole beans, a Logger’s Hall of Fame, entertainment, competitions, and a parade. A free Family Fishing Festival in Bethel in Mayincludes casting, fly-fishing, and fly-tying instruction, family-priced barbecue, or bring your own lunch. The New England Forest Rally runs through several towns including Newry and Mexico; it is the final round of the RallyCar National Championship Series and prelude to the X Games.

FOOD, DINING, NIGHTLIFE

Maine Maple Sunday is held every March at various sugarhouses throughout Maine where visitors are offered tastings and demonstrations, some offer sleigh or wagon rides, live music and other activities.


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