Bath’s one-day Fourth of July festival will begin with an antique car show in downtown Bath from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Amanda McDaniel

It’s not Bath Heritage Days, the annual five-day festival that usually takes place in downtown Bath around the Fourth of July, but the city will host a free one-day festival, dubbed “A Day to Celebrate,” on the Fourth of July.

Downtown revitalization group Main Street Bath, in partnership with the Chocolate Church Arts Center, organized the event in roughly a month after Gov. Janet Mills lifted all capacity limits and requirements to physically distance in public outdoor settings effective May 24. Those requirements were first enacted in the hopes of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

About 120 antique cars will line Front, Elm and Commercial streets in downtown Bath for the Front Street Shuffle” car show from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, according to Main Street Bath Director Amanda McDaniel. A tent of crafts and face painting for children will be available in Library Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Bath Municipal Band will play patriotic songs in Library Park from 4-5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Amanda McDaniel

For live music lovers, the Bath Municipal Band will play patriotic songs in Library Park from 4-5:30 p.m. Slygo Road, a rock, blues and soul band, will perform in Waterfront Park from 5:30-7 p.m. Lastly, Star Club, a Beatles tribute band, will take over Waterfront Park from 7:30-9 p.m.

The holiday will be capped with fireworks, beginning at 9:15 p.m., launched over the Kennebec River. Spectators can watch the display from Waterfront Park.

“This isn’t Heritage Days, but I feel like this is pretty good with the time we were given,” said McDaniel. “You get to select your own adventure with this festival. If you just want to listen to some patriotic tunes, bring a chair down to Library Park. If you have kids and they want to have some fun, there’s something for you too.”


Bath Heritage Days typically includes a parade, carnival, concerts and fireworks, which attract anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 people from across the country, according to McDaniel.

The annual festival was canceled in late January Main Street Bath, city officials and Bath police, “agreed that it would be difficult to enforce COVID-19 guidelines” during the festival, McDaniel told The Times Record in January. The pandemic cancelled the festival in 2020 as well.

Chocolate Church Arts Center Executive Director William Lederer said he’s thrilled to be able to offer live music to Bath residents and give musicians, who watched their industry dry up during the pandemic, a place to play.

“July Fourth is huge in Bath and it was such a shame that Main Street had to cancel Heritage Days, but I still think that was the right decision,” said Lederer. “Back when we had to make a call on Heritage Days, I don’t think anyone thought we’d be where we are today. People are so hungry for normality and to take in music again.”

Bath’s one-day Fourth of July festival will end with fireworks over the Kennebec River at 9:15 p.m. Photo courtesy of Amanda McDaniel

Local businesses are also looking forward to the increased foot traffic the event will bring after tourism was staunched by the pandemic last summer.

“We’ve seen a huge uptick in visitors and locals recently; I feel like summer started early this year and we’re expecting that to rise,” said Heather Fear marketing director for Now You’re Cooking, a kitchen supply store on Front Street. “I think people are so hungry for activity and seeing old friends, and they’re looking for opportunities to engage with the places they love in Bath. Heritage Days takes 6 months to plan, so for them to put on this abbreviated festival is impressive.”


Jennifer DeChant, a Bath city councilor and owner of Bath Sweet Shoppe on Centre Street, said the holiday weekend marks her store’s one-year anniversary, making the weekend particularly meaningful.

“Last summer we had limited tourists, but I sense this pent-up energy for Maine, and July Fourth is a gateway for that,” said DeChant. “To have a Fourth of July celebration is a little slice of normalcy. We should enjoy every second of it, but not take it for granted.”

Although McDaniel doesn’t know exactly how many people are expected to visit the festival, she said the organization’s Facebook post announcing the celebration has been seen by over 19,000 people as of Monday.

The Main Street board voted to cancel what would have been the 49th annual Heritage Days in January when the state’s COVID-19 case counts were still high because the festival takes at least six months to plan. However the board made the call with the hope that something smaller could be planned later if the number of COVID-19 cases decreased and restrictions loosened.

To the board’s delight, they did.

As of June 14, 86% of Bath’s population had been vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard. As of Monday, 68% of Sagadahoc County’s eligible population 68% has received their second dose of the vaccine, just above the statewide vaccination rate of 65%.


The Maine Center of Disease Control and Prevention reported only 13 new cases on Monday, compared to the hundreds of new daily cases that were reported in late January.

With the state’s COVID-19 cases decreases while vaccination rates continue to rise, McDaniel said she’s ready to celebrate the state’s “momentum.”

“It would be a missed opportunity if we didn’t do anything to celebrate,” she said. “It means a lot more to us than in year’s past just because we have the ability to congregate. We’re just desperate for normalcy.”

Within Sagadahoc County, 1,474 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 11 have died since March 2020 when the pandemic reached Maine, according to the Maine CDC.

Statewide, 68,989 Mainers have tested positive as of Monday and 858 have died, according to the Maine CDC.

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