Hallowell is arguably Maine’s smallest city and also its most colorful.

And one event seems to lead right into the next, from the Hallowell Pride parade in early June to Hallowell’s spin on the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, coming up in August, there is never a shortage of things to do.

The 2019 Rock on the River open-air concert series will kick off at the bandstand at the north end of Water Street on Tuesday, June 18, weather permitting, and will continue into August with 10 weekly open-air performances from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The popular series, sponsored by the City of Hallowell, is organized each year by Hallowell musician Steve Vellani and the diverse line-up of first rate talent draws an appreciative crowd of locals and visitors. There is no admission charge but seating is limited; bring a blanket or a lawn chair if you wish.

This year’s Rock on the River kickoff will coincide with the Old Hallowell Day 2019 art “reveal”, hosted by the Harlow Gallery from 6-7:30 p.m. in its new home, adjacent to the city bandstand. Plan to arrive early for the concert in order to be among the first to lay eyes on the original 2019 Old Hallowell Day artwork, created by local artist Nancy Barron. After the drape is drawn away to reveal the art, Old Hallowell Day 2019 poster prints will be available for sale. Have yours signed by the artist if you like.

Love to dance? Come to Hallowell, where opportunities include the Rock on the River open air concert series on Tuesday evenings (seen here), to Old Hallowell Day, Saturday July 20, to the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Revival to be held on Aug. 18, featuring only music played during the original Woodstock, performed by local musicians. Photo by Nancy McGinnis

To many, summer in Hallowell brings to mind Old Hallowell Day, above all else. This traditional celebration, centered around the third Saturday in July, is always a nonstop mix of music, art, food, fun and friends, new and old, from the early morning road race to the famous fireworks. Old Hallowell Day 2019, which falls on July 20, will include an international kids’ festival hosted by the Capital Area New Mainers Project. Children of all ages and their families can look forward to playing and learning together, sampling new foods and even a live concert performance.
While Hallowell certainly knows how to party, there are also options for those seeking nature, quiet and the chance to explore and experience something new.

Thanks to the efforts of community volunteers, the rainbow array of Adirondack chairs once again enlivens the boardwalk at the edge of the Kennebec River for the season. Stop by to enjoy your to-go or brown bag lunch or just to catch a breeze and admire the view. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a bald eagle soaring overhead – or a giant sturgeon leaping up from the river.


People relax in colorful deck chairs around low tide on Kennebec River on the bulkhead in Hallowell on Aug. 19, 2016. Kennebec Journal file photo by Joe Phelan

Just up from the river’s edge, adjacent to Granite City Park, is the aforementioned Harlow Gallery, home of the Kennebec Valley Art Association. As a nonprofit seeking to connect and celebrate art, artists and community, the Harlow offers an impressive range of cultural opportunities, exhibits and events such as the members’ show, “Striped,” opening June 21 and running through July 27. Visit harlowgallery.org for more information on current shows in their dual exhibit space. When you visit, be sure to browse their curated selection of locally handcrafted items for sale in the Harlow Craft Shop.

Just minutes from downtown is the Vaughan Woods and Historic Homestead: a nature preserve and landmark family residence built in 1794 that now serves as home of this nonprofit organization seeking to “connect people to place through nature, history and the arts.” From time to time there are interpretive tours of the house and grounds and public programs such as lectures, arts workshops and seasonal community events, including offerings for young people and families to enjoy together.

The nearly 200-acre property features nearly three miles of trails that were thoughtfully laid out by Vaughan family members more than a century ago, leading visitors to artful stone bridges, soothing waterfalls and meadowland. The Vaughan Woods and Historic Homestead will host an extra special annual Garden Party this year, says Executive Director Kate Tremblay, as the occasion will also be the 225th anniversary celebration.

By reservation, in July and August, guided tours of the Homestead will be given on Tuesdays while guided history hikes of the Vaughan Woods will take place on Thursdays. For more details on these event, or to reserve a space or purchase tickets, visit VaughanHomestead.org or call 207-622-9831.

Water flows under the bridge as people walk over on April 17, 2019, in Vaughan Woods in Hallowell. The popular walking trails between Farmingdale and Hallowell can be accessed from trailhead near corner of Middle Street and Hallowell Litchfield Road. Kennebec Journal file photo by Joe Phelan

All are invited to the garden pavilion for Folk Fridays: an informal, multi-generational community gathering to play music; a free event taking place from 6-8 p.m. on July 19, Aug. 2
and 16, and Sept. 6.

Also in the Garden Pavilion, on Saturday, Aug. 3, Row House, Inc. will offer a not-to-be-missed presentation: Hallowell Historian Sam Webber will speak on the History of Hallowell from 1797-1850. The talk begins at 4 p.m. The gates open at 3:30 p.m. and the presentation is free and open to the public. Parking is limited; first come, first served.

Another unique opportunity this season is Hallowell’s 2019 Summer Sculptor in Residence program, a partnership between the Hallowell Arts & Cultural Committee and Stevens Commons. Local stone carver Jon Doody has begun creating a sculpture in the Commons from a block of granite from one of the Hallowell quarries. Such granite is prized near and far for its fine light color and texture. Doody’s sculpture-in-progress is located opposite 2 Beech St., just off Winthrop Street. The public is invited to stop by (weather permitting) on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to observe the artist at work and to follow the progress as Doody’s sculpture takes shape all summer long.

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