This story has been updated.
CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou’s popular Thursdays on Sweden Street festival will return after a year-long hiatus, although the first event of the summer may look a little different from previous festivals.
While plans had been made to hold the event on Main Street to ensure guests could stay six feet apart and follow state COVID guidelines, Caribou City Council has since discussed keeping the event on Sweden Street. As of May 3, it is currently unclear where the upcoming “Thursdays” event will take place.
If not held on Sweden Street, the event would be held at 6 p.m. on June 3 at Northern Maine Brewing Company on 22 Main St. The festival would be concert-only with a few vendors, and Northern Maine Brewing Company providing a beer garden.
Prior to the council meeting, Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator Christina Kane-Gibson said they chose the alternate location to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.
“We want people to get out and have fun, and we also know that things are changing,” she said. “So by the end of summer we’ll all hopefully be back downtown, but we thought this would be a good environment where people can safely socially distance and enjoy a nice evening of listening to music, talking, and having fun in the meantime.”
The restaurant would have outdoor space large enough for guests to bring chairs and sit six feet apart.
“Families or pods can stay together, and as long as the groups are spaced six feet apart, we could probably spread all the way out to the potato fields if we need to,” she said.
Unlike before, where the city released the entire summer line-up beforehand, this year they will issue details prior to each event in case health guidelines change and allow relocation.
Events are set for June 3 and 17, July 1, 15, and 29, and August 12 and 26. This year there will be no individual themes except for “Reunion Night” on July 15, in which former Caribou students gather for class reunions.
The first featured band, Barefoot Brotherhood, puts their own spin on the Jam Band genre popularized by acts like Phish and Grateful Dead.
“I love them,” said Kane-Gibson. “Their music has a really laid back atmosphere, so for me it’s perfect for a summer evening.”
Guests driving up to the Main Street site would be directed to a parking space, and will need to bring their own chairs to watch the concert. The guidelines at this location would also be similar to most restaurants, where masks can be taken off while stationary and then placed back on when moving around the space.
Kane-Gibson said she’s excited to be able to bring the event back after a year.
“One of the hardest parts of my year in 2020 was having to cancel Thursdays on Sweden,” she said. “None of us really knew what was happening at that time. I had most of my bands booked. I had vendors contacting me, and to have to call all those people back and to cancel with all the bands — that just wrecked me. I hated it.”
She said “Thursdays” and other gatherings play a big role in bolstering the city’s community spirit.
“When you’re stuck in your house for an entire year and you don’t get to see your neighbors, or see kids running under the sprinkler, it takes something away,” she said. “We’re known for our community spirit here, and I think it will help us get some of that back. It hasn’t been lost, and it’s not gone, it’s just been on hold.”