Farmers markets, entertaining festivals and other lighthearted amusements await the summer visitor to Belfast, which has been blessed with a merry mix of historic buildings, natural beauty and eclectic entrepreneurs and artists.

Among the requisite summer stops is the popular United Farmers Market of Maine, open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays this summer at 18 Spring St. in Belfast. Billing itself as a “first-class farmers and artisans market overlooking the bay in Belfast,” this indoor year-round farmers market handpicks its vendors with an eye toward diversity and excellence.

Vendors rent booth space in what formerly was the Mathews Brothers window showroom and offer customers high-quality baked goods, cheeses, flowers, homemade pasta, plants, produce and much more.

Shoppers roam through the more than 65 stalls in the market, sampling coffee, chocolates, condiments, seafood, spices, ice cream, meats, salads and prepared ethnic food. They can peruse art, crafts, jewelry, soaps, pottery, woodworking creations, gifts and other items. Then they can share food, beverages and other “finds” in a communal dining area with expansive views of Penobscot Bay.

This marks the third summer for the new market, which opened in 2017. For details, visit belfastmarket.com.

Despite all the buzz surrounding the new United Farmers Market, the Belfast Farmers’ Market is also still going strong after 39 years. Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays at 256 High St. (outdoors at the Waterfall Arts Building), the local farmers market has been a city staple since 1980. Shoppers are invited to “grab and go, or stay and picnic.” Often there is live music and you never know what else you might find.

Vendors sell fresh-cut flowers, homemade baked goods, fruits, veggies, cheese, yogurt, jams and preserves, meats, beans, honey, syrup, beeswax candles, crepes, bagels, crafts and more. Visit belfastfarmersmarket.org.

The Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad has scheduled train rides on weekends all summer, taking passengers through scenic woods and fields, but this summer all events will be out of Unity station on Depot Street in Unity, according to the B&ML website.

There are specialty rides including a Pizza and Whoopie Pie Train, Motor Car rides, Hobo Lunch, Father’s Day BBQ excursion, Pie Express and more. The Great Train Robbery has bandits who board the train. Known as the notorious Waldo Station Gang, they rob passengers for real donations to the Travis Mills Foundation. For details, visit belfastandmooseheadlakerail.org.

The Belfast Rail Trail is a scenic path popular with cyclists, joggers, hiking enthusiasts and their dogs (leashed). Formerly part of the B&ML’s rail route to Burnham, the trail takes visitors 2.3 miles along the Passagassawakeag River on a crushed stone and gravel path that leads to an historic railroad museum.

The wide, well-groomed trail was built in an old rail bed and opened three summers ago. It begins at the City Point Central Railroad Museum at the northern trailhead. There are vintage engines, cars, a caboose and artifacts on display at the vintage station at 13 Oak Hill Road. The trail is wheelchair accessible, especially from the outer High Street parking lot, and follows the river, with panoramic views and bridges that traverse creeks along the way. The southern point is at Pierce and Front streets. Visit traillink.com for details and a map.

Belfast City Park features a creative playground with room for youngsters to run, climb, test limits and use their imaginations. This suspension bridge is part of the fun. Contributed photo

Belfast is known to host some of the state’s most popular arts events and quirky summer festivals right on the water and this summer is no exception.

The first major event of the season takes place July 6-7 when the 24th annual Arts in the Park returns to Heritage Park. Admission is free to the event, which is located downtown at waterfront Steamboat Landing. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this juried show features approximately 80 fine artists and artisans who display their paintings, sculpture, pottery, jewelry and crafts, against the backdrop of a gorgeous view, live music, food vendors and more. The show attracts thousands of art lovers, and organizers say it is a must-attend show each year for artists. For more, visit artsintheparkbelfast.org.

The Belfast Common will come alive with bagpipe music as the annual Maine Celtic Celebration pipes its way into town July 19-21. With live music, food, games and shenanigans, this waterfront celebration offers a full schedule of fiddling, bag-piping, step dancing and family fun. The stage will be awash in plaid as the Kilt Kontest determines “Who wore it best.” Men, women, children and even dogs are welcome to join in the fun. Undergarments are strongly encouraged. Contestants are judged by the audience. A Celtic breed dog parade and show adds to the fun, along with a beer tent, singing, dancing, flutes, banjos, whistles, pipes, drums, harp and a Saturday fireworks display put on by the city. The popular Cheese Roll Championships compliment the hijinks, along with the Kilted Canter 5K road race, sheepdog herding demonstrations and more.

On Sunday, there is a 10 a.m. church service, including the “Calling of the clans” during which those of Celtic descent are encouraged to cry out the family name. This is followed by more music, the Highland Heavy Games, children’s “Not-So-Heavy” games, a Wellington Boot Toss and relay races follow. Admission is free, courtesy of local business sponsorship, organizers note. For details, visit mainecelticcelebration.com.

The annual Belfast Harbor Fest, with its National Boat Building Challenge, will be held Aug. 16-18 at Steamboat Landing and Heritage parks. Participants build boats in four hours on Saturday, then launch them.

There is a blueberry pancake breakfast, shipyard tours, boat show and 5K Bug Run road race. The 19th annual Come Boating! Regatta is Saturday. A four-mile race, it is open to all oared and paddled boats. Contestants pre-register.

Saturday’s festivities also include children’s activities, such as a touch tank, face painting, bubbles and puppets. There is live music all day Saturday in the gazebo, followed by a barbecue that night under the big tent.

On Sunday the popular Cardboard Boat Challenge takes place. Participants create boats for fun using cardboard, then take part in a lively parade to the landing and launch them. Judges present trophies and awards for team spirit, creativity and “most spectacular sinking” in the challenge. Sunday afternoon’s Habitat for Humanity Lobster Gala includes blues on the shore and benefits the charity. Visit belfastharborfest.com.

“Fourth Friday” Art Walks are held the last Friday of each summer month, with fine artists, performance artists, musicians and poets displaying their abilities from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Art galleries are open and visitors find street performers, food tastings and a vibrant downtown to explore. For more, visit belfastcreativecoalition.org.

A short drive up Route 1 to Searsport leads to waterfront Mosman Park, which has a playground, picnic area, basketball courts and a beach to comb. Sears Island is another gem to explore in Searsport with beaches, walking trails and wildlife. Visit friendsofsearsisland.org.

Just a short drive down Route 3 from Belfast is beautiful Lake St. George State Park in Liberty. A state park with swimming, picnic areas and wide open spaces for Frisbee and other outdoor endeavors. A fee is charged.

Craftsmen and those who enjoy antiques will love Liberty Tool Co., which has several floors packed with hand tools, curiosities, books, art, prints, taxidermy, antiques, postcards and more. Visit libertytoolco.com for details.

Just across the street from the tool company is the Davistown Museum, which displays artifacts and documents from history, as well as more tools, a library and art collection. There is no admission to the museum, but donations are accepted. A photo tour of the museum and its artifacts and exhibits is available online at davistownmuseum.org.

Liberty Graphics, a custom T-shirt business, has its village outlet store on the first floor of the museum building. It sells T-shirts, sweatshirts and other garments, as well as deeply-discounted samples. Liberty Graphics has been printing water-based ink designs featuring themes from science and nature since the 1970s. Visit lgtees.com for more.

For more about what is happening in and around Belfast, visit belfastmaine.org.


Comments are not available on this story.