FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — The Maine Potato Blossom Festival committee is finalizing the line-up for the festival’s return, which will include numerous family-related and agricultural events.
The festival was canceled in 2020 due to local concerns about COVID-19 spreading. With more people in Aroostook getting vaccinated, festival director Cheryl Boulier is confident that the majority of traditional and new outdoor events can be held safely while still being fun for attendees.
This year the only events that will not be held include the Maine Potato Blossom Pageant, mashed potato wrestling and the kayak race. The committee will not confirm the status of the annual parade until late May. If Gov. Janet Mills sticks with the state’s plan to open up outdoor events to 100 percent capacity, Boulier said, then the parade will be held on the second Saturday of the festival.
“The parade is the one event we would require people wear masks for. It always generates our largest crowd,” Boulier said.
The festival will occur July 10-18 and feature sports tournaments and races, music performances, food and art vendors and the return of the Town Yard Sale and the Chamber of Commerce’s barbecue cook-off.
Many new events have been added, including a corn hole tournament and a garden tour. A Family Day on the Farm will feature an interactive exhibit where children can learn about farming techniques and earn rewards to spend at the Farm Store.
Though most events will not require masks, there will be social distancing rules determined by the space and nature of each event. Tables, chairs and sports equipment will be regularly sanitized after each use and extra bottles of hand sanitizers will be available near food vendors.
According to the Maine CDC’s vaccination dashboard, 47.5 percent of Aroostook County’s population have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 47.2 percent have received their final dose. Boulier is hopeful that vaccinations, combined with the easing of travel restrictions, will lead to more people visiting Aroostook for the festival.
In a typical year, the festival draws more than 30,000 who eat at restaurants, stay at local hotels and campsites and support area shops.
“All of Aroostook County benefits economically [from the festival] and so everyone felt that void when we had to cancel,” Boulier said. “We’re hoping to see a large influx of people who feel more comfortable traveling and have missed social gatherings.”
Boulier noted that the festival schedule will not be confirmed until late May, but people can see weekly updates on the Town of Fort Fairfield website and the festival’s Facebook page.