Frank’s Restaurant and Pub in Lisbon Falls welcomes a line of visitors during the Moxie Festival in 2017. Darcie Moore/The Times Record file photo

LISBON — Town officials have canceled the annual Moxie Festival this summer because of statewide restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Stevens, director of the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, said Thursday that Gov. Janet Mills’ limits on the size of gatherings allowed would make it “impossible to offer something in the way that we normally do, with thousands of people coming to our community.”

The festival has been an annual event in Lisbon since shortly after author Frank Potter held a signing for his book “The Moxie Mystique” at Frank Anicetti’s Kennebec Fruit Company store in downtown Lisbon on Route 196.

This will be the first time since the festival started in 1982 that the three-day event in July celebrating the soft drink won’t take place, Stevens said.

“It was a very painful decision for all of us knowing that it’s such a huge part of our culture,” he said.

Local businesses, which are hurting because of the pandemic and measures put in place to stem its spread, are “the heart and soul of why we do it,” Stevens said.

He said there’s a possibility that a fall event might be planned to celebrate the community instead of the Moxie Festival.

In the meantime, he said organizers are exploring the possibility of a virtual 5K run.

“This would have been our 25th Moxie 5K road race,” Stevens said. “I was really excited about that because we’ve had two runners that have run it 24 years in a row.”

Other area festivals, including the Great Falls Balloon Festival in the Twin Cities, have also been canceled.

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