Potato Blossom Fest expected to draw in large crowd during full week of activities

3 years ago

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Organizers with the Maine Potato Blossom Festival are planning for a week of events more similar, if not larger than, the scale that people were accustomed to prior to the pandemic.

Festival director Cheryl Boulier said that in recent conversations with the Maine Office of Tourism she has learned about predictions that more tourists will visit rural areas of the state this year. This trend will be largely due to urban events, such as the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, being canceled for a second year.

“We’re estimating well over 10,000 people, if not more,” Boulier said, in regards to Potato Blossom Festival attendance. “Our local lodgings and camps have been filling up quickly.”

People who arrive in Fort Fairfield July 10-18 will have an array of family, athletic and agricultural-themed events to choose from. Most traditional events, including the parade, music performances, town-wide yard sale, bike parade and rodeo for children and fireworks are being planned. 

The festival will kick off on Saturday, July 10, with the yard sales, corn hole and horseshoe tournaments, the Chamber’s Smokin’ BBQ Cookoff, a car wash at the VFW hall, blacksmith demonstrations and an evening performance by local band The Dogs.

Only several events, including the Potato Blossom pageant, mashed potato wrestling and children’s show at the Francis Malcolm Science Center, will not occur. Local pageants and indoor science shows have not been held this year due to the pandemic restrictions. The materials needed to create the “mashed potatoes” have not been available due to the border closure, Boulier said.

In place of the mashed potato wrestling, the festival will host a Fireman’s Muster that will occur at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 17, at 18 Community Center Drive. Other new or returning events will include a garden tour to benefit Baskets of Blessings food pantry, an ice cream social on July 11 and the Spud Cycle Classic Bicycle Race & Tour, in memory of Tom Chasse Jr., on July 18.

The annual Family Night on July 15 will feature activities such as Hoover Ball archery, the new Family Day on the Farm exhibit and a potato picking contest. Boulier said that the farm exhibit offers another way for the festival to honor its agricultural heritage.

“We hope to plant a seed in the kids’ minds about the importance of agriculture,” Boulier said. “They can do simple farm tasks and learn about where their food comes from.”

Perhaps the most anticipated event will be the annual parade, Boulier said. The festival committee has already seen many registrations for the seven float categories: Best Live Music Entry, Most Original, Best Agricultural Float, Best Aroostook County Theme, Best Marching Unit, Best Antique Entry and Best Children’s Float. 

The live music entries will be eligible for a $500 cash prize and trophy while all others will receive trophies. Though people can still register on the day of the parade, Boulier urges folks to register by July 14 for planning purposes.

The Festival committee decided to go ahead with the parade after Gov. Janet Mills lifted the outdoor event restrictions and mask requirements statewide. With Aroostook’s vaccination rate increasing and most festival events occurring inside, Boulier said the committee is confident in their ability to keep the public safe.

“We’ll have extra sanitation stations set up and all food vendors are required to provide hand sanitizers. Someone will be in the food court cleaning tables constantly because of the large crowd we’re expecting,” Boulier said. “We’ve been approaching this year’s festival planning with safety in mind.”

Whether people are coming from near or far, Boulier expects that everyone will be especially excited about returning to their summer event traditions.

“The biggest thing I keep hearing is that people are excited to get outside together again,” Boulier said. 

A full schedule of events can be found on the Town of Fort Fairfield website or the Festival’s Facebook page.