The Franklin County Fiddlers will be performing again this year at the Maine Fiddlehead Festival. This photo is from 2023. Submitted photo

FARMINGTON — As the spring season unfolds, communities in and around Farmington are gearing up for the annual Maine Fiddlehead Festival, a celebration of local food traditions and products.

Held at the University of Maine at Farmington’s campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 27, the festival offers a day packed with live music, talks, and local food.

The festival, which has its origins dating back to around 2010, has grown steadily over the years, evolving into an event that draws attention to the importance of local food systems.

According to Mark Pires, UMF campus sustainability coordinator the festival emerged from discussions among individuals involved in farming, crafting, and farmers markets in the area.

Pires said community members who helped get the first festival up and running were interested in bringing people together who shared interest in acknowledging and promoting farming, foraging, and rural living skills, and sharing those traditions with the wider community.

“The significant contribution of agriculture and related-activities to the economy of the greater Franklin County area makes focusing on local food products and producers a ‘natural’ area of interest for the people of the surrounding communities,” Pires said.


“The motto of the festival, ‘A Celebration of Local Foods’, speaks to the rich agricultural history of our part of western Maine,” Pires said. “It’s timed perfectly to coincide with the start of the gardening season and the kick-off of farmers market activities.”

Pires said in addition to celebrating local food traditions, the festival also serves as a platform to raise awareness about food insecurity issues in the region. Various community organizations, including the Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County and the Maine Outdoor Ministry, participate in the festival, offering information and resources to address food insecurity.

“The festival is not just about celebration; it’s also about raising awareness and addressing issues like food insecurity,” Pires said.

Central to the festival’s mission is its focus on promoting sustainable harvesting practices and supporting local farmers. Alongside food and craft vendors, the festival features “Tent Talks” by experts who educate attendees about sustainable practices. Talks cover topics ranging from plant-based methods for soil fertility to sustainable fiddlehead harvesting, aligning with the festival’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

Pictured is Ashley Montgomery preparing fiddleheads. This photo is from last year’s Maine Fiddlehead Festival. Submitted photo

The festival engages attendees to educate them about the culinary uses of fiddleheads and other local produce. Pires said, “On Fiddleheads in particular, we have UMF’s own culinary artist, Ashley Montgomery, who will be on hand to please folks’ palates with her fiddlehead-based creations. Dave Fuller’s Tent Talk on sustainable fiddlehead harvesting also touches upon safe culinary uses of this beloved little green fern.”

Since its inception, Pires said the festival has experienced significant growth, expanding from a small gathering to a larger event with approximately 35 food and craft vendors, 15 community organizations, and two food trucks this year. Attendees can expect live performances, a petting zoo, cooking demonstrations featuring local ingredients, and a dedicated “kids zone” with family-friendly activities.


“The lineup of local musicians makes for a very lively atmosphere at the festival,” Pires said. “With a strong emphasis on the folk music tradition, this entertainment element of the festival fits very nicely with its overall ‘rural living’ theme.” Pires said the young members of the Franklin County Fiddlers will be performing again this year.

“The festival has grown in size and scope over the years, reflecting the increasing interest in local food and farming,” Pires said. “It’s become a community staple, bringing together people who share a passion for supporting local agriculture and rural living.”

Pires said the festival’s collaboration with UMF’s Sustainable Campus Coalition underscores its commitment to sustainability and community engagement. Through partnerships with various groups and individuals, the festival aims to raise awareness of local food security issues and promote initiatives that support the region’s agricultural economy.

“Especially in the post-pandemic period, festival organizers are working to maintain the growth we have already experienced,” Pires said. He said when the festival came back in 2022 after two years of pandemic-imposed cancellation, community members came out in droves to enjoy all that the festival has to offer.

“Keeping the focus on the ‘local’ and supporting the area’s agriculture, and rural–based economy and traditions will remain a central guiding principle of the Maine Fiddlehead Festival,” Pires said.

Check out the Maine Fiddlehead Festival website at for more details.

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