The 195th Maine Army National Guard Band performs at the Lewiston-Auburn Liberty Festival’s Salute to the American Flag and Retirement Ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Lewiston in July 2019. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

Several of the Lewiston and Auburn festivals scheduled for the summer will be affected by Gov. Janet Mills’ plan to restart Maine’s economy, with some announcing they will have to cancel.

Mills’ four-phase plan states that beginning July 1 and throughout August, the state would “contemplate maintaining the prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people.”

That would affect the Great Falls Brewfest scheduled for June 27, the Liberty Festival set for July 4, the Great Falls Balloon Festival and Maine Bicentennial Parade, both scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 14.

According to Mills, “innovations or expanded testing and other capacity could accelerate this pace.”

Cathy McDonald, who has been involved with the Liberty Festival for more than 30 years, said she had been anticipating the festival would have to be postponed.

“Even before today’s announcement, I was wondering how we would pull this off,” McDonald said. “Thousands of people show up for the festival and fireworks. How do you get thousands of people to stand 6 feet apart? People in Hannaford and Walmart aren’t even doing that right now.”


McDonald said her current plan is to continue reaching out to Central Maine Pyrotechnics, the company responsible for providing the festival with fireworks, “just in case something crazy were to happen.”

“It takes so long to get the license for the festival that, if they allow us, I’d like to continue the process in case at the last minute something changes and we can throw a festival together,” McDonald said.

She said it would be only the second time in the past 30 years that there were no fireworks on the Fourth of July.

“The last time was in 1996, and that was because we had no funding,” McDonald said. “In this case, I’m OK with being healthy instead of trying to make the festival happen.”

She said if things clear up enough later in the year, “we might be able to do something in the fall.”

Kristen Muszynski, a spokeswoman for the Bicentennial Commission, said that after the commission agreed to reschedule the Bicentennial Parade from May to Aug. 15, they agreed to set July 1 as the date to decide whether the parade was going to happen.


“We’re just learning about the governor’s plan now, so (the commission) hasn’t had a chance to meet and talk about it,” Muszynski said. “As of right now, the plan is to still make a final decision on July 1, unless the commission decides to convene virtually before that date and discuss something else.”

Adam Platz, director of the Great Falls Brewfest, said he had no comment Tuesday night but would likely release a statement in the next couple of days.

Platz said from the perspective of Baxter Brewing’s pub, Mills’ plan comes as a “relief.”

“We’ve been preparing for the worst since the beginning,” Platz said. “I have full confidence that despite any challenges that pop up, we’ll be able to adapt and find a way through.”

Tracy Collins, president of the Great Falls Balloon Festival board of directors, said the board would hold an emergency Zoom meeting to discuss the festival.

“We will, of course, follow the guidelines of our governor and our government,” Collins added.

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