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Thursdays on Sweden coming back with a family focus

CARIBOU, Maine — Offering music, food and entertainment, Thursdays on Sweden is coming back this summer with a focus on family-friendly events and an additional day.

Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator Christina Kane-Gibson is organizing the event, with the help of department heads throughout the city, and said she is incorporating suggestions from the 2017 inaugural event into the upcoming street festival.

“We did a survey at the end of last year’s event to get ideas from a new perspective,” she said. “And people are really looking for a family experience. It’s always been a family experience, but we’re going to try and take it to the next level.”

As a result, this year’s Thursdays event, which involves closing off a portion of Sweden Street for the festivities, will feature more activities that children can enjoy, such as a bounce house and a fire truck demonstration.

“We’re looking at different things kids can do,” Kane-Gibson said on May 10. “We’re still meeting and talking about it, and hope to have something a little bit different from last year.”

Thursdays on Sweden will start on June 7. The additional, seventh, day of the festival will occur on Sunday, Sept. 9, and feature an appearance from BikeMaine in addition to being a celebration of Acadian culture.

“The theme of this year’s BikeMaine tour is Acadia and the St. John Valley, so to honor that we’re going to have La Racolte, a band from Acadiana, Louisiana, play and also have a performance from the Aroostook Band of Micmacs Women’s Drum Group.”

The final day, dubbed “Sunday on Sweden,” will also feature a wildlife display from the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge in Limestone, a cafe by Maine Beer Company and Northern Maine Brewing Company, and fish from Micmac Farms.

Kane-Gibson said she wants to highlight Aroostook County as a “four seasons destination” and incorporate farm equipment in order to provide a “unique perspective of life in Caribou.”

Throughout the Thursdays and Sunday, Kane-Gibson said she is excited to introduce a karaoke contest with a $500 prize for the winner, and additional cash prizes to the second and third place winners.

For the final “Thursday” event on Aug. 30, Kane-Gibson said she and other organizers are going to be “pulling out all the stops” for a “southern style” celebration with line dancing instructors and a mechanical bull.

Each of the seven days, according to the events coordinator, will contain something different for visitors to anticipate.

Kane-Gibson said she’s particularly excited for the karaoke contest, adding that the summer celebrations wouldn’t be possible without the help of directors from each city department.

“This couldn’t happen if we didn’t all come together,” she said. “Public Works brings in barricades and helps with stage tear down. The police department blocks off the roads, and the fire department brings in their fire truck. Parks and Rec is a huge help in planning, too, and the library always incorporates great activities.”

The organizer said her primary concern for this year, as with last year, is the weather, as it can be difficult to choose whether or not to call off the event in advance due to forecasted rain that could dissipate by the scheduled start time.

“We try to wait until about 2 p.m. to decide if we’re going to call it,” Kane-Gibson said. “[Caribou Police] Chief Michael Gahagan has a magic eight ball in his office and we’ll consult that, but sometimes we can call it and the sun comes out. But there have been other days where we don’t and then there’s a microburst of rain, like last year’s finale.”

She concluded that the weather “is always something that makes me a little nervous.”

Kane-Gibson said she’s looking forward to all of the vendors who come out to sell food, crafts, art, and “everything in between.”

“They are super dedicated and just as excited as I am,” she said. “They’re the ones who make this experience happen. We have some incredibly talented people here.”

While the line-up has been announced, Kane-Gibson said she’s open to advice for improving the event from anyone, and can be reached by calling the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center at 493-4224 or via email at christina.kane-gibson@cariboumaine.org.

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