The Star-Herald

Fort Fairfield kicks off Potato Blossom Festival with cook-off, yard sale

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — The town of Fort Fairfield began the 72nd annual Maine Potato Blossom Festival on Saturday with a busy weekend of events that included old favorites and a brand new barbecue cook-off.

The Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce hosted the first Chamber’s Smokin’ Barbecue Cook-Off on the afternoon of July 13, complete with 10 teams that competed in four divisions: chicken, ribs, pork and brisket, and for the Peoples’ Choice Award.


A group of six judges tasted and chose the winners based on the meat’s appearance and tenderness. For $20 community members could purchase tickets to taste all 10 competitor’s entries as well as smoked macaroni and cheese and bread pudding. Vendors also sold traditional festival treats such as ice cream and funnel cakes while the Limestone-based Griffeth Farms sold baked potatoes.

LaNiece Sirois, executive director for the Chamber of Commerce, said that despite the cook-off being a new event many folks stopped by as competitors set up on Friday evening to see what was going on. She hopes to make the cook-off another fun addition to the Potato Blossom Festival.

“We all love tradition, but I think a new event can bring even more excitement and variety to the festival,” Sirois said.

Father and son Derek and Matthew Mingo brought their teams — Bingo’s Barbecue and Catering and Little Bingo, respectively — to Fort Fairfield from Lamoine, a town in Hancock County, Maine. Derek Mingo said that they have regularly brought their barbecued foods to cook-offs in Aroostook County and across the state.

“We like meeting new people. Everyone here is always welcoming,” Derek Mingo said.

As the barbecue chefs stayed busy firing up their grills, numerous cars lined the neighborhood sidewalks for the town-wide yard sale. Brooke Shaw said that her family participated in the sale to sell clothes, toys and other items because they will soon be moving out of their home. Her 3-year-old son Jace took the opportunity to sell lemonade to customers for 25 cents per glass.

“The best part is not so much the sale but seeing everyone that comes by,” Shaw said. “It’s great to have a big event to kick off the festival.”

Nicole Munn of Fort Fairfield spent time at Shaw’s yard sale looking for clothes for her children. She noted that she and her family have many festival events they plan to attend.

“We’re looking forward to the parade,” Munn said, referring to the Maine Potato Blossom Parade, scheduled for noon on Saturday, July 20. “It’s a fun way to get everybody out and about.”

Just down the street Claudette Babin of Fort Fairfield took her granddaughters Kaya, 5, and Raja Mason, 7, to many yard sales in search of unique finds.

“Other peoples’ junk is our treasure,” Babin said.

The Maine Potato Blossom Festival will continue through Sunday, July 21. A full schedule of events can be found at https://fortfairfield.org/ or the festival’s Facebook page.

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