Great weather, a packed line-up of events and some stellar performances brought large crowds to Fort Fairfield to celebrate the 70th Maine Potato Blossom Festival over the past nine days.
“It never ceases to amaze me how a community of roughly 3,500 people can roll out the welcome mat and host tens of thousands of people!” exclaimed Festival Director, Tim Goff. “The Maine Potato Blossom Festival is a source of tremendous pride for our community, and without the support of the Town of Fort Fairfield, dozens of volunteers and our generous sponsors, we could never pull off such an incredible event.”
While the weather was certainly one of the stars of the show, the performances held on the new and improved Festival Main Stage showcased why the Maine Potato Blossom Festival has become a destination for music lovers from throughout the region and beyond. Local favorites, Brian and Doug and St. John Valley rockers French Toast set the tone with impressive sets on Thursday night that showed the range of their musical chops. Friday night brought a twin bill of hardworking entertainers to the stage – with Travis Cyr warming up the crowd before The JD Gilbert Band got the entire venue up on their feet and dancing – earning numerous fans and much acclaim in their first visit to Aroostook County. Saturday featured four bands, with newcomers Star City Syndicate flexing the muscles of their 19-piece band as they tore through favorites from the past five decades. Adam Nadeau kept the post-parade crowd entertained with his take on a variety of musical acts before giving way to hometown hero, Ben Kilcollins! Kilcollins, accompanied by his band, the Vargas Twins, showed why he is in such high demand in venues large and small throughout New England with his steely voice and polished stage show. Tickle, a party band from southern Maine brought the dance beats to the street dance as the crowd sang and danced late into the beautiful summer evening. Capping the Main Stage performances was a return engagement by Unlucky Joe who rivaled the Sunday fireworks finale in terms of power and pop.
The 70th Maine Potato Blossom Festival, which began on July 8th, featured an unprecedented winning streak in the Miss Maine Potato Queen Pageants by contestants from Mapleton, with Miss Mapleton entrants winning the first three crowns. Olivia Locke took home the title of Pre-Teen Miss, Elizabeth Collins won the Teen Miss crown and Emily Hallett won the Little Miss Maine Potato Queen pageant. Miss Presque Isle entrants won the last two contests, with Madison Hedrich winning the Junior Miss title and Yessenia Vilar being crowned the Miss Maine Potato Queen on Saturday July 15th.
Other highlights included the ever-popular mashed potato wrestling, tater tot eating and potato picking competitions, the Cary Adventure Park and Movie Under the Stars, the car show, household pet show and performances by traditional fiddle groups The Fiddleheads and The Wednesday Evening Fiddlers. And then, of course, there were tremendous crowds on hand for the Maine Potato Blossom Festival Parade on Saturday which featured dozens of entries, not including the pre-parade of antique and unique cars. Pines Health Services took home the trophy for Best Overall Entry for their float ‘Heroes of Health’, with McCain’s Foods winning the trophy for Best Theme for their colorful, interactive float, and Crown C.A.R.E.S. was awarded the trophy for Most Original Entry for their float which featured a large castle tower and promoted an anti-bullying theme.
With more than 100 family-friendly events, food and arts and crafts vendors and much more, the 70th Maine Potato Blossom Festival drew tens of thousands of folks to the region to celebrate our agricultural roots while filling hotels, restaurants and shops for miles around.
“We have worked very hard these past few years to make the Maine Potato Blossom Festival into an event which draws more people from further away to experience what life is all about in Aroostook County,” said Goff. “I met folks from as far away as Florida, Georgia, Michigan and just missed a chance to chat with a couple from the United Kingdom who traveled here to our community to see what the Maine Potato Blossom Festival is all about and to see the beautiful blossoms that are now in bloom in the rolling fields throughout the area. So, we know our efforts are working and are having a positive impact on our local economy. We look forward to continuing to build upon this success in the years to come.”
Plans are already being made to celebrate the 71st Maine Potato Blossom Festival July 14th through 22nd in 2018. Anyone and everyone is invited to be part of this annual tradition and encouraged to become a member of the Festival Planning Committee. The Committee meets several times throughout the year to work on everything from choosing entertainment options to event logistics and more. The next planning meeting will be held this fall.