“We are thrilled with the turnout for this year’s Festival, which featured an expanded line-up of musical performances, new events and crowd-pleasing favorites,” stated Tim Goff, Director of the Maine Potato Blossom Festival. “Our goal has been to use this great summertime tradition to draw more people from throughout the region to come explore Aroostook County, visit Fort Fairfield and provide a boost to our local businesses and we have certainly seen the results of our efforts blossom with people from the Northeast and Maritimes making the drive to the Crown of Maine.”
The Maine Potato Blossom Festival featured sixteen musical performances, including nine nights of entertainment in the beautiful bandstand on Main Street and four nights of acts on the Festival Main Stage. Highlights included performances by traditional fiddlers from both sides of the border, the huge gaggle of girls and boys dancing and singing along with Rick Charette at the Community Health Center on Friday as well as that night’s twin bill featuring the musical antics of The Half Moon Jug Band and smooth Country sounds of Chris Ross and the North, Saturday’s double feature with Aroostook County’s own Travis Cyr and the Strings of Calamity followed by Maine music stars the Jason Spooner Band, and a rocking reunion of Unlucky Joe who provided a powerful punctuation mark on the Festival as the Fireworks Finale light up the night sky over the Aroostook River.
“It certainly is rewarding to see so many people come to our community and enjoy themselves given the immense investment of town staff and resources it takes to host the Maine Potato Blossom Festival,” said Jim Risner, Fort Fairfield’s Town Manager. “While the Festival has always been a homecoming for folks from Fort Fairfield, it is also growing into an event that draws more and more families from throughout the region to spend some time in our community.”
Saturday’s Maine Potato Blossom Festival Parade was among the largest in recent history, with more than 150 entries including a pre-parade of classic cars, antique trucks and revved-up rides. The parade, one of the largest in northern New England, featured plenty of agricultural themed entries, with floats, tractors and everything in between paying homage to the Maine Potato. Queens representing communities throughout the County, central Maine, New Brunswick and even Rhode Island were exhausted from waving to the thousands lining the 1.2 mile long parade route as they rode floats and sat in shined up automobiles. Winners of the coveted parade awards were; Pines Health Services for Best Overall Entry, Aroostook County Queens for Best Theme and Tater Pickin’ Kids took home the prize for Most Original.
After the parade, the first-ever International Tater Tot Eating Competition sponsored by McCain Foods USA, Boondock’s Grille and the Maine Agri-Women, drew a large crowd to watch as these potato-eating pioneers challenged each other and themselves to consume two pounds of tater tots the fastest. WAGM TV’s Joey Prechtl, winner of the Media Competition held earlier this month, was pushed to the limit, but took home the title in the Men’s Division by cleaning his plate in 2:32. Jodi Nickerson won the Women’s Division with a time of 4:18 and it was a photo finish in the Youth Division with Jonathan Gorman besting his second place challenger by milliseconds and claiming the top prize by eating the smaller, one pound portion in 3:48! All received gift cards from Boondock’s Grille in Fort Fairfield for their efforts.
The eating competition was not the only culinary attraction new to this year’s event. Many new food vendors, including Waldoboro-based Maine Dish, New Hampshire-based Canon Old Fashioned Sodas and the Coca Bongos Mobile Sports Bar, featuring a wide variety of frozen drinks, helped create more variety for the thousands who attended the Festival. Many local non-profits use the Maine Potato Blossom Festival as an opportunity to raise funds and awareness about their organization. Volunteers who staffed the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) booth, which raises money to provide scholarships to students and to support veterans, reported they had their best week of sales in at least the past eight years and will be able to increase the amount of money they give back to the community as a result.
The Maine Potato Blossom Festival Organizing Committee would like to thank the many sponsors and volunteers who make the Festival possible, as well as the Town of Fort Fairfield for organizing and hosting the massive event! Plans are already being made for next year’s 70th Maine Potato Blossom Festival, and folks can see lots of pictures and videos from this year’s festivities by visiting the Maine Potato Blossom Festival’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MainePotatoBlossomFestival/