The Star-Herald

Fort Fairfield readies for summer celebration of past and present

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — As warm weather begins settling in, a large network of volunteers in Fort Fairfield is organizing the Maine Potato Blossom Festival with a new director, Cheryl Boulier.

This year’s 72nd annual festival runs from Saturday, July 12, to Sunday, July 21, and

Siblings Donna, Cheryl and Scott Ashby with their parents William and Betty gathered near the Fort Fairfield library to watch the Maine Potato Blossom Festival parade on Saturday. The Ashby’s held a family reunion this year to coincide with the festival. (Anthony Brino)

After a long winter and the addition of new festival events, Boulier said, the Fort Fairfield community is eager to host the weeklong celebration, which this year runs from Saturday, July 12, to Sunday, July 21.

“It has great meaning to me and to the community,” said Boulier, who came out of a recent retirement from Northern Light Health to take the festival director’s job in March.  

“The focus is celebrating our agricultural heritage. That’s what we’re trying to put to the forefront this year. We have a lot of new events that are planned around that theme.”

New events for the 72nd annual festival include a barbecue cookoff hosted by the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce on the first Saturday of the festival; a “tough tater” obstacle course challenge organized through the Fort Fairfield Recreation Department; and a farming equipment exhibit.

Those new events will be held along with the traditional events like the pageants, class reunions, parade, music, fireworks and mashed potato wrestling, Boulier said. There will be six class reunions this year, including the 50th year reunion for the Fort Fairfield High School class of 1969.

The schedule of events is just about ready and will appear on the town website, the festival Facebook page and in print brochures around late May, Boulier said.

“We like to have people see our purpose and mission,” she said of the new farming exhibit, which will show vintage equipment alongside today’s technology and large equipment.

Boulier grew up on the Bell family farm on Sam Everett Road in Fort Fairfield and remembers the Potato Blossom Festival as a mid-summer celebration for the farming communities of Fort Fairfield and The County.

“It was a homecoming and it still is today. People still think of it as coming home to the festival,” Boulier said. “I think I grew up with the old agricultural roots. I picked potatoes the hard way. We all worked on the farm. We always looked forward to the festival. We all worked hard everyday. We all came to town and enjoyed everything.”

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