AUBURN — The city will look to the river next month as the next inspiration in a series of seasonal festivals.

Auburn River Day will be held on Sept. 17 at the Androscoggin River Park in New Auburn, at the confluence of the Androscoggin River and the Little Androscoggin.

Sabrina Best, director of the Auburn Recreation Department, said the event is part of a larger statewide Great Maine Outdoor Weekend Sept. 16-18.

“This weekend has been on my radar,” Best said. “The goal is to get people outside, especially in city atmospheres. A lot of times, kids and families don’t get outside and they don’t get to experience a true park scene or the natural activities that are right out their back door.”

The lineup for Auburn’s event is still being settled, but Best said she hopes to offer plenty of fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding as well as vendor booths, food and live music.

“We need to educate everybody — not only about recreating safely around the river, but to show them that they can come and use it,” Best said. “Come. It’s clean, it’s beautiful and you should be enjoying it.”

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Best, who joined the Auburn city staff in January, said the river festival is the logical extension of Auburn’s annual Winter Festival and last weekend’s Summer Festival.

“It was my first week here and we were working on Winter Festival and I asked what we did for the summertime — and the answer was, ‘Nothing,'” Best said. “I said we need to do a Summer Fest and we need to have fireworks.”

The Recreation Department has sponsored the Winter Festival for 16 years in February. It combines ice skating and skiing at Lost Valley with other winter activities, movies, music and food.

This year was the first Summer Festival, and Best said it was a success. It featured basketball clinics, a 5K trail run, movies, music, food and a block party on Main Street in front of Festival Plaza that culminated in the fireworks display.

Best said she’d like to have a special festival each season, and the River Day festival fits that mold.

“Right now, we are talking about what we want to do next, for the springtime,” Best said. “Ideally, we want to have one major event in each season. We already do an event in the spring around Easter weekend, but it’s more like a community event, instead of a regional event. So obviously, we have a ton of ideas being thrown out. But it’s going to happen.”

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