Harvest Festival arrives

12 years ago

    Be careful what you wish for lest it take on a life of its own. Wise words, which this year’s Chamber of Commerce and Riverfront Park Committee has chosen not to ignore. What began as a small downtown festival to celebrate the Community Market and its contributions to the town has become a combined effort to highlight the connection between Market Square and the underutilized Riverfront Park.
    Lori Weston, community development director, Greg Palmer of Vital Pathways and the Chamber of Commerce Director, Jane Torres, have been working together to bring a spectacular new event to the people of Houlton and surrounding areas.
    The Harvest Festival begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, with the opening of the Community Market in Market Square, with 15 additional vendors showcasing Aroostook County-made products. The always popular Sue Gerard will be coming with her pottery from Madawaska, along with vendors who have homemade soaps, knit socks and scarves, baskets, candles, and many more things to purchase that will carry us into those cold winter months in comfort.
    Across Gateway Bridge is Riverfront Park where a children’s mini-road race along the Meduxnekeag River, starting at 9 a.m.
    Artists will be setting up to demonstrate and sell their art and the chamber and the Riverfront Committee will have a 100 pie extravaganza! Stop at the Vital Pathways table at the beginning of the bridge to check in, walk the loop along the river and back through town and receive a token to get a dollar off one of those fabulous pies!
    At 10 a.m. County Yankee and The Thirsty Dawg are sponsoring a free children’s movie at the Temple Theatre. That will also be the start of the first-ever 5K River Run Road Race organized by Larry Tonzi and slated to loop around town and end in Riverfront Park. The winners get … you guessed it … their pick of a delicious pie! Reason enough to run a 5K race.
    By noontime, the festivities should be in full swing with the arrival of the Tractor Train, which is being pulled by Sonny Folsom. This antique tractor pull, courtesy of the Northern Maine Antique Tractor Club, consists of little miniature tractors that the children are buckled into for a fun ride around town.
    For the older children, there are games in Riverfront Park from noon to 3 p.m. Some of the activities in store for the afternoon are cider making, a scavenger hunt, apple tossing, doughnut bobbing and pumpkin painting to name just a few of the fun games.
    Also, the Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a “Count Your Blessings” tree, with all proceeds going to the “Just for Kids” playground project. A leaf can be bought for a $1 and the child can write his/her blessing on the leaf, which will be hung from the tree.
    Another creative attraction for the youth of the surrounding areas is the naming of the new “Bear Tracks” monument in Riverfront Park. Children will be able to nominate their choice for a name and a winner will be awarded.
    If music is a preference, the Harvest Festival can accommodate as the “Unitarian Church Drumming Circle” will be playing at the park at 11 a.m.  At noon, “Brotherhood Song” will entertain the crowd on the stage and “The Hill Brothers” take the stage at 2 p.m. To wrap up the music, “Ted and the Boys” will start playing tunes at 6 p.m. and carry the melodies into the evening hours.
    While the daytime will focus on the children the evening is definitely more adult-oriented, as the first-ever ATV Parade, sponsored by the Aroostook Riders ATV Club, will meet behind the Houlton High School at 3:30 p.m. and form a parade down through town, across the Gateway Bridge, down through Riverfront Park, out to Route 1 and looping back onto the trail to cross the Aroostook Riders suspension bridge before heading back to the high school. This six-mile ride is widely anticipated and should be lots of fun for all involved!
    No plans after the ride? Organizers encourage people to be at Riverfront Park for baked potatoes with chili and a chance to dance to the music of “The Hill Brothers” and “Ted and the Boys.” Included in the festivities will be a tent where the crowd can enjoy a harvest ale and kick back and listen to the bands.
    As “Ted and the Boys” are serenading the crowd, organizers will light the “River of Fire” in the Meduxnekeag, beginning at 6 p.m. This will be the County’s version of Providence, R.I. Waterfire project and the Gateway bridge will be an outstanding place to watch as the floating braziers are lit to delight the crowd!  
    The Chamber of Commerce and the Riverfront Park Committee hopes that everyone breaks out the warm clothes and joins the fun on Saturday.