Cedar Ridge performs Thursday, the first day of the Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Festival at the Litchfield Fairgrounds in Litchfield. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Maybe you are in search of some fantastic music. Maybe something unique to quench your thirst. Maybe sky-high adventure. Whatever your pleasure this summer, central and western Maine has got something for everyone.

Over the next three months, the area will host an assortment of festivals with themes ranging from unique soft drinks to hot air balloons.

With Litchfield’s Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Festival already in full swing, the next up is the Maine Blues Festival in Lisbon Falls this Saturday, June 17, featuring 29 blues artists from all over the state. According to co-founder Kevin Kimball, the purpose of the festival is to celebrate Maine blues artists.

“For as long as we’ve been operating, we’ve had national acts pounding on our door wishing to get into the Maine Blues Festival. And the answer is the same, ‘Thank you for your interest, we’re humbled by that and flattered by it, but this is for Maine artists only.’”

When the festival was founded in 2006, it was located in Naples, but after the COVID-19 pandemic they made the move to Lisbon Falls. While there are fewer venue locations in Lisbon, the stages are closer together, allowing participants to sample different artists easier.

Julia Bichrest, then 7, of Lisbon Falls wears a Moxie hat during the 2018 Moxie Festival Parade in Lisbon Falls. Sun Journal file photo

A few weeks later, right up the road in Lisbon Falls, the Moxie Festival takes place, and this year it will last three days instead of one, from July 7-9.


The festival is a celebration of the soft drink Moxie, a spicy carbonated drink that Kate Madore, co-coordinator of the festival, compares to black licorice root beer.

“It’s a little spicy, a little spunky,” Madore said. “And they say it gives you pep and vigor, it gives you energy.”

Over the years, the word “moxie” has evolved to be used as a noun describing someone who is particularly tenacious.

“Moxie is having grit, it’s having determination,” Madore said. “It’s being a little bit tough. It’s being a particular way, a particular flavor that you bring into your life to help to get the job done. And so I think that’s what we celebrate just as much as we celebrate the soda.”

According to Madore, the schedule is chock full of activities including a parade, chugging and eating contests, competitions, music, car shows, food trucks, a carnival run by Smokey’s Greater Shows, and more.

Balloons drift over the Androscoggin River in August 2022 during the Great Falls Balloon Festival in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Late August will bring the Great Falls Balloon Festival to Lewiston, which will feature two new balloons shaped like a scarecrow and Dracula — in line with this year’s theme: Boo-Loon. The festival is also hosting a blood drive on Saturday at 48 Pettingill Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in conjunction with the city of Auburn.


Balloon launches will be at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston. Onlookers can watch the balloons from right on the field, along the river or from almost any open area in Lewiston, according Tracy Collins, president of the festival.

“People like to follow the balloons because when they do land, if they land on your property or whatever, sometimes (the pilots) allow people to fold up their balloons,” Collins said.

The pilots control when and where they land their balloons, but not which direction the wind will take them. According to Collins, sometimes homeowners with big flat areas in their yard will lay down a white sheet to signal their permission for balloons to land there.

These are just a few of the many festivals in the area this summer. Below are more. Check the Sun Journal event calendar and your favorite calendar listings for more summer events in your area.

Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Festivals and Band

Ariel Wyner, right, and Micah Nicol, from the band The Ruta Beggars, warm up behind the stage Thursday afternoon before they perform during the first day of the Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Festival at the Litchfield Fairgrounds in Litchfield. In the background is Tom Benson, waiting to join Cedar Ridge performing on stage. “I’m about to jump in as Porter John as opposed to Porter Wagoner. Some will get it,” he said before hopping on stage. Visit sunjournal.com to watch a video to sample the vibe. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Location: 30 Plains Road, Litchfield


Date: June 15-17 and Aug. 24-26

Details: The June festival will showcase 11 performers from all over the country. Performances will be from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. until around 9 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $100 for a three-day pass, $25 for just Thursday or $40 for Friday or Saturday.

Link: blisteredfingers.com

The Maine Blues Festival

Location: Lisbon Falls

Date: June 17


Details: The Maine Blues Festival will feature 30 blues performers and various food vendors. Tickets may be purchased online at this link for $16, or $20 at the event.

Link: mainebluesfestival.com

Great Falls BrewFest

Location: Lewiston’s Simard-Payne Memorial Park

Date: June 24

Time: 12-5:30 p.m. VIP access; 2-5:30 p.m.


Details: Baxter Brewing and Baxter Outdoors will host their 8th annual Great Falls BrewFest on Saturday, June 24. The event will features 50 breweries, cideries and seltzer producers as well as various non-alcoholic drink options. VIP tickets are available in advance for $60 and early access to the festival to sample specialty beers. General admission tickets cost $40 if purchased in advanced; designated drivers may purchase a discounted ticket for $15. The event will feature live music and various food trucks including L/A Taco Truck, Fahrenheit 225 and Pinky D’s.

Link: baxterbrewing.com/event/8th-annual-great-falls-brewfest

Bates Dance Festival

Location: Bates College

Date: Performances from June 29 to July 29

Details: The festival brings together dancers of all ages and from all over the country to offer performances for the public. Hosted by Bates College, this festival is a mix of training programs and performances. The festival is made up four programs including the Young Dancers Intensive, the Professional Training Program, the main stage performance series and the Youth Arts Program. Tickets are on a sliding scale from $5-25 and many performances are free to the public.


Link: batesdancefestival.com

Liberty Festival

Location: Great Falls Plaza in Auburn and Veterans Park in Lewiston

Date: July 4

Time: 6 p.m.

Details: The Liberty Festival will take place on July 4 at 6 p.m. in both Great Falls Plaza and Veterans Park. Attendees can expect food vendors, karaoke, an Elvis concert with Robert Washington and a performance by the band Country Roads. Fireworks will begin at 9:30 and Longley Bridge will be closed for the duration. The rain date for the event is July 5.


Moxie Festival

Location: Lisbon

Date: July 7-9

Details: A celebration of the iconic New England soft drink, the Moxie festival will feature music, art, food and much more. On Friday, there will be a Moxie recipe contest, live music and fireworks. Saturday festival-goers can expect a 5K, a Moxie chugging contest, a whoopie pie eating contest and the longest parade in the state. Sunday will cap off with a Moxie car show, a bass fishing derby and various live music performances.

Link: moxiefestival.com

Norway Music and Arts Festival


Location: 10 Tannery St., Norway

Date: July 8

Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Details: The Norway Music and Arts Festival is an annual celebration of performance, visual, music, movement, healing practices and literary arts. The event will feature art and food vendors and a short parade.

Link: creativenorwayme.org/nmaaf/

Lewiston-Auburn RiverFest


Location: Lewiston’s Simard-Payne Memorial Park Amphitheater

Date: July 14-15

Time: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on July 14; 8 a.m. to dusk on July 15

Details: The RiverFest will occur on Friday, July 14, and Saturday, July 15, and will start off with a kickball tournament at 9 a.m. Friday morning. Boat rentals, food vendors, live music and a beer garden will be available throughout both days. There will be a regatta at 8 a.m. on Saturday hosted by Lewiston Rowing featuring rowers from across New England. The regatta is open to rowers of all ages, abilities, and skill levels. Registration fees are $25 for singles, $35 for doubles and $50 for quads and fours.

Link: discoverlamaine.com/the-riverfest/

Bethel Summerfest


Location: Bethel

Date: July 15

Details: A small-town celebration of craft and community vendors featuring food, live music, kids activities, a parade and fireworks. More details to come on this page.

Link: bethelsummerfest.com

Wilton Blueberry Festival

Location: Maine Street, Wilton


Date: Aug. 4-5

Details: The Wilton Blueberry Festival is a two-day event offering various family-friendly activities. Friends of Wilson Lake will facilitate free boat rides at the Wilson Lake Public Boat Launch on Friday, Aug. 4, from 1-4 p.m. On Saturday, participants can expect a pancake breakfast, followed by a parade at 10 a.m. There will be various crafters and venders from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a firework show over Wilson Lake at 9 p.m.

Link: facebook.com/blueberryfestivalwilton/

The Great Falls Balloon Festival

Location: Simard-Payne Memorial Park and Festival Plaza

Date: Aug. 18-20


Time: launches at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Details: The Great Falls Balloon Festival will take place from Aug. 18-20 and will feature balloon launches twice a day at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Simard-Payne Memorial Park. The festival will showcase additional entertainment such as craft and trade booths, a children’s area, a bounce house, face painting and various live entertainment acts. Additionally, there will be a pancake breakfast following each of the morning balloon launches and food booths throughout the day at Festival Plaza in Auburn. Balloon rides cost $250 per person and range in size from two- to 10-passengers. Rides tend to last between 45 minutes and two hours and a champagne toast will be provided to passengers when their balloon lands.

Link: greatfallsballoonfestival.org

Lewiston-Auburn Greek Festival

Location: 155 Hogan Road, Lewiston

Date: Sept. 8-9


Time: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days

Details: Hosted by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, the annual festival celebrates Greek culture through music, dance and food. This year the festival will feature live music on both days: by George Kaminaris on Friday and by Tanni and Friends on Saturday.

Link: lagreekfestival.com

Auburn Blues and Brews Festival

Location: Main Street/Festival Plaza

Date: Sept. 9


Time: 1-7 p.m.

Details: Back for its 5th year, the Auburn Blues and Brews Festival will feature live music from five blues bands from across Maine. There will also be beer and food vendors at the event. The festival has free admission and is family friendly. Performers include Dave Mello Trio, The Renovators, Pat Colwell & Soul Sensations, Continental Shakedown & Mark Miller and Wake up Mama.

Link: www.goauburn.me/riverwalk-blues-brews-festival

Dempsey Challenge

Location: Lewiston

Date: Sept. 23

Details: The Dempsey Center is hosting its 15th annual fundraising event to benefit its cancer support and care facilities in Lewiston and South Portland. The event includes a selection of runs, walks and rides for participants of all ages. This year the challenge has moved to a one-day event and has added a duathlon for participants wishing to run and ride. And yes, Patrick Dempsey, actor and founder of the Dempsey Center, is planning to participate in this year’s challenge. The registration fee varies by age and race, and adult participants are asked to contribute a fundraising minimum fee.

Link: support.dempseycenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=546

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