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Harvest Festival Market offers unique local foods during winter

CARIBOU, Maine — Patrons from across The County and beyond packed into Micmac Farms on Saturday for the second annual Harvest Festival Market. 

Dozens traveled table-to-table, taking note of what each seller had to offer. Attendees could buy squash, marshmallows, parsley, turkey, lamb, syrup, honey and pea shoots, along with a variety of teas, peppers and jams. 

Micmac Farms Marketing Manager Jacob Pelkey described the Harvest Festival as a celebration of Aroostook County food, in a weather climate that often gives farmers few options to showcase their products.

Many vendors had spent hours creating their products, largely from scratch. 

Jan Grieco of Perham sold numerous flavors of organic tea using ingredients grown in The County. She said that tea-making is a longtime family tradition. One of the teas Grieco sold Saturday used a recipe developed by her Irish-born great-grandmother more than a century ago.  

(Photos/David Marino Jr.)

Members of Phi Theta Kappa from Northern Maine Community College sold a variety of homemade brownies. Walnut, plain, and even cream cheese brownies were available. All proceeds went to the Hope and Justice Project, which provides support to domestic violence victims within The County. 

Many vendors advertised their items with themes of sustainability and healthy eating. The Chops Ahoy Farm, run by Deena Albert Park, featured “nitrate-free” bacon, available at $8.50 per pound. Only a few hours into the market, Park wiped the item off her whiteboard; it had quickly sold out. 

“It’s always a hot seller,” said Deena Albert Park, who said she tries to sell at Micmac Farms events as often as possible. “A lot of people are eating healthier, and nitrates are just not good for you.” 

The community aspect of the event was palpable. Attendees and sellers alike often stopped to greet familiar faces amongst the crowd. Few left empty-handed. 

MaryAlice Mowry, who woke up early to drive about an hour and a half from Patten, said she especially enjoyed the Micmacs’ home-grown trout chowder. 

“Great Food, the honoring of Native culture, and creating community,” Mowry said. “This regular market brings all kinds of people together that are learning to appreciate good food.”

An array of local music acts performed throughout the day, including Presque Isle-based Native American drum group Mawitan’ej E’pijig (Gathering of Women) and cellist Jael Duran. 

Mawitan’ej E’pijig member Sarah DeWitt said that showcasing Native American music is important for Native and non-Native American Mainers alike. According to U.S. Census data, there are approximately 1,300 Aroostook County residents solely of American Indian descent, representing about 2 percent of The County’s population. 

“In a weird sense, this is their history too,” DeWitt said. “In order for us to successfully be here, we have to be here together.” 

The Harvest Festival Market is part of a series of festival markets held at Micmac Farms every month. Micmac Farms said that vendors came from Presque Isle, Caribou, New Sweden and Fort Kent, among other locations. Vendors are allowed to sell in the facility free of charge. 

Richard Shaw of Caribou said the trout keeps him coming back to Micmac Farms. He bought trout chowder, potato chips and salsa. 

“I believe in helping the local people out,” Shaw said. “It’s a good way to shop.” 

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