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Thursdays on Sweden returning to Sweden Street

CARIBOU, Maine — After tentatively moving to Main Street and then the North Mall parking lot due to uncertainties surrounding restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Caribou’s popular Thursdays on Sweden event will return on June 3 to its original location — Sweden Street.

The city went an entire year without the bi-weekly summer festivities in 2020. When planning its return this year, city officials first decided to set the event on Main Street behind Northern Maine Brewing Company, a local business with a large outdoor space and stage area that could accommodate large crowds while still following six-foot social distancing guidelines.

This move was criticized by city councilors who wanted to see the event return to Sweden Street, despite possible difficulties in keeping guests six feet apart. As a compromise, the event was then tentatively set to take place at the North Mall parking lot, an area adjacent to Sweden Street. Both iterations were planned to be smaller in scale, with only a few food vendors, and primarily focus on live music from “Barefoot Brotherhood,” a group that puts their own spin on the jam band genre with songs reminiscent of Phish and the Grateful Dead.

Now, with Gov. Mills’ Moving Maine Forward update on May 13, requirements to physically distance outdoors and wear a mask will be lifted on May 24.

“We now feel that we can safely move downtown,” Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator Christina Kane-Gibson said. “More people are getting vaccinated, so as the state continues to progress in vaccines, restrictions will start easing more and more. Everything is trending in a good positive direction.”

With restrictions always evolving, she said she can’t guarantee that guidelines won’t change again.

“I want to be hopeful that it’s not going to step back to where we’re going to have restrictions again, but as of right now it looks like it will be just like old times,” she said.

She said the city is working with Cary Medical Center to hopefully have a vaccination booth included at “Thursdays on Sweden,” allowing those who may have been on the fence, or who were not able to find a convenient time, to have the option to receive their vaccine during the event.

The city is looking for vendors. Normally, the events include roughly 50 vendors, but Kane-Gibson said there is space for more if the demand is high enough. 

“It’s always hard, nobody wants to be the person who has to tell people they can’t hug somebody, or they can’t stand next to somebody. Nobody wants that job, but those protocols were in place to keep people safe, and now that we have a lot of support from the state in the Moving Maine Forward Plan, it’s all good news. I think it’s making people feel really positive and excited about the summer.”

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