CARIBOU, Maine — The city just wrapped up one of its largest annual events, “Caribou Days,” which combines the Caribou Cares About Kids Parade, Heritage Day, Thursdays on Sweden and a number of other community events.
Festivities began with a Thursdays on Sweden event focused on Caribou Days, which had an emoji theme this year. Hundreds came out to that event and cooled off under a fire truck ladder spraying water, enjoyed food from numerous vendors, and listened to the music of Star City Syndicate.
Friday was packed with events, beginning at 10 a.m. with tie-dying and hot dogs in the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center, then a panel featuring Echoes Magazine alumni at the Caribou Public Library at 4:30 p.m., followed at 6 p.m. by an emoji themed parade that went along the end of Bennett Drive next to the Skyway Plaza, down through High Street, and ended at the Caribou Courthouse on Sweden Street.
Several businesses hosted special floats in the parade with city officials dubbing the Pines Health Services’ Dr. Seuss float the winner. Katahdin Trust Company’s 100 year birthday cake float came in second and Cary Medical Center’s “Fun in the Sun” float took third place.
Friday night’s festivities were capped with a screening of “The Emoji Movie,” sponsored by Cary Medical Center and Pines Health Services, on the lawn of Teague Park with popcorn and snacks offered to the roughly 100 guests in attendance.
While the final day of the festival had to be moved into the recreation center due to rain, Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator Christina Kane-Gibson said there was a steady turnout from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in which inflatables, food, and games were available for guests.
Kane-Gibson said Monday that she was “really happy with” Caribou Days aside from Saturday’s rain and the new school construction at Teague Park limiting the amount of space available outside.
“Teague Park Elementary School was really kind in allowing us to use their property for the movie,” she said, adding that guests sat on the lawn while the screen was placed in front of the gym.
Kane-Gibson has been the city’s events coordinator for a year and a half, and organized last year’s Caribou Days celebration, which was the first to combine the long running Caribou Cares About Kids Parade with other city events.
“Last year was the first time we combined everything,” she said. “This year was the first year we officially combined Heritage Day, and really focused on the library with the Echoes Magazine discussion as well as the open archives day on Saturday.”
She added that the library was “instrumental” in keeping the Heritage Day aspect of the three-day event alive.
“I was really inspired by the Echoes discussion,” Kane-Gibson said. “We want to keep Caribou Cares About Kids alive, but also want to maintain the heritage aspect for all of our citizens and I think Echoes Magazine was amazing in doing that. Their stories are just so inspiring.”
While the loss of the park did impact the event, Kane-Gibson said that, looking ahead, she hopes to continue growing the event.
Some changes unofficially discussed include adding some classic cars and vintage tractors to the parade, and the consideration of changing the date to mid-August, as this year’s festival landed on the final weekend of the Northern Maine Fair as well as the Greater Van Buren Summerfest.
Kane-Gibson said the city is putting together a committee to assist in planning future events, and encourages any citizens to reach out to her at email@example.com or by calling the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center at 493-4224.
Caribou Days is by no means the last of events for the year, with two more Thursdays on Sweden Events scheduled for Aug. 16 and 30, as well as a special Sunday on Sweden on Sept. 9 to coincide with scores of bicyclists arriving in Caribou as part of a BikeMaine trek across northern Aroostook.
“There were lots of smiles all around,” said Kane-Gibson. “It was really heartwarming to see everyone come out and support such a long time event.”