Skowhegan Soccer competes last year in the Moonlight Madness bed races held on Water Street in downtown Skowhegan as part of the annual River Fest celebration. River Fest begins Monday with more than 40 events planned. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

SKOWHEGAN — Town officials expect thousands of people in the coming days to participate in the annual River Fest, Skowhegan’s seven-day festival that organizers say celebrates life and recreation on the Kennebec River.

“This year is going to be bigger and better than ever,” Town Manager Christine Almand said.

There are more than 40 events scheduled from Monday to Sunday, with familiar favorites being Moonlight Madness, a night of food, music and madcap bed races, and the town’s annual fireworks display. But some new events are planned as well to mark Skowhegan’s bicentennial this year, Almand said.

A bicentennial parade will roll through town on Thursday beginning at 6 p.m. and starting at the Maine District Court parking lot on Court Street, and on Sunday there will be an official bicentennial celebration at Coburn Park complete with outdoor games, live music, food trucks, river races and horse-drawn wagon rides around the park.

Celebrating the town’s 200-year milestone is an occasion to reflect on the town’s progress in recent years, and consider how the Kennebec River has shaped Skowhegan’s history as well as its future, Almand said Thursday. While in the past, the river primarily supported the logging and forestry industries, Almand said the next exciting opportunity it offers Skowhegan is in outdoor recreation, through the River Park project.

Over $8 million has been raised so far for Skowhegan’s River Park, a project by local nonprofit group Main Street Skowhegan. Since construction may begin as soon as this fall, festival organizers are ramping up in-river activities this year to generate buzz. Kristina Cannon, Main Street’s executive director, said there will be daily opportunities to get active in the water with kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle-boards. Any proceeds from the festival will go toward fundraising for the River Park project, she said.


Things begin Monday morning with the official opening of a downtown business, Joe’s Flat Iron Cafe, at 65 Water St. That evening, the town is hosting a public forum on expanding transportation and trail opportunities in town.

Tuesday there will be a canoe meet-up on the Kennebec followed by the town’s fourth annual National Night Out, described by police Chief David Bucknam as “just a great night of free, fun-filled, sweat-filled activities at Coburn Park.”

Wednesday’s events include a speakeasy fundraiser at Bigelow Brewing Co. for the town’s new early learning center, and a glow stick paddle along the river at 7 p.m.

Thursday is jam-packed with a trivia night, lobster bake, whitewater kayak clinic and golf tournament at Lakewood Golf Course in Madison. That day is also when the bicentennial parade will be happening, as well as an outdoor film screening in the evening.

Moonlight Madness on Friday has a number of new events added for the town’s bicentennial year, including a market with over 50 vendors, live music, chainsaw carving, a LumberJack & Jill runway competition, beer gardens and the famous bed races.

Saturday will feature inflatable kayaking through the Kennebec River Gorge, and a fun run in the morning. Family day kicks off in the afternoon with a range of activities for kids, including rock-climbing, a bounce house and face painting. One of the festival’s biggest draws, the annual fireworks show, starts at 9 p.m., with a rain date set for Sunday.

The festival ends Sunday with the bicentennial celebration. A full schedule of events and more is available at

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