HOULTON, Maine — Despite off and on rain showers throughout the weekend, the inaugural Barbecue-Music-Mud Run Festival proved to be popular with those who attended.
Friday evening’s featured entertainment showcased local band Wally and the Virginians, followed by French Toast (a Madawaska band) and national recording artists Framing the Red, a southern rock band from Jackson, Mississippi.
While attendance for Friday evening was lower than organizers had hoped for, overall the event was positive.
“We thought we would be a lot busier on Friday,” said Paul Cleary, president of the Houlton Fair. “The bands we had were absolutely fantastic, but attendance was not what we expected. It’s too bad.”
Cleary added while the numbers were not there Friday, the bands still put on an incredible show and enjoyed their time on stage.
“Their willingness to interact with any fan on an individual basis was a crowd pleaser,” said Mike Jenkins, a member of the Houlton Fair board. “They played great original music with a few covers. They really enjoyed the tour given by the Aroostook ATV club. They have never seen or played for fans that sat in the rain and listened to a band play, so they said as long as people were willing to sit in the rain and listen to them there was no way they were going to get off the stage. They had never experienced that dedication by a crowd in other parts of the country.”
On Saturday, attendance picked up dramatically for the mud runs and barbecue cooking contest. Approximately 1,500 attended Saturday’s event, Cleary said.
“For our first time doing mud runs in some time, we had more trucks than I expected entered,” he said. “I was really pleased with the turnout Saturday.”
The barbecue cooking contest drew five chefs crafting their best entries. One of those cooks, Korrie Kenney of Houlton, said he was impressed with how well the event was organized.
“For the first one for me and the fair, I think it was good,” he said. “I definitely look forward to next year and would absolutely do it again. We had a really fun day. All of the contestants were great. I am glad to see something different at the fairgrounds.”
Sunday, because of the weather, no gate admission was charged to get into the park for the midway.