Arootsakoostik Festival is homecoming for Maine music fans
NEW SWEDEN, Maine – Thomas Park in New Sweden was once again filled with hundreds of Maine music fans, who gathered Saturday to hear some of their favorite bands and solo artists.
The return of the Arootsakoostik Music Festival became a homecoming for folks who have been longing to hear great live music or make the trek to Aroostook. Throughout the sunny and warm afternoon, groups of friends and family members set up lawn chairs or sat in the bleachers of Thomas Park.
Many caught up with friends and fellow music fans they had not seen since the last Arootsakoostik in 2019.
As festival director Travis Cyr energized the crowd with his folk band Thunderheart Lion, Francine Fabiano of New Sweden and Jamie Smith of Caribou watched from lawn chairs perched near the top of the hill overlooking the stage.
“I think I’ve only missed one of these festivals since they started,” Fabiano said. “It’s good to be back and to see some familiar faces.”
Smith said that he has also been a fan of Arootsakoostik since Cyr hosted the first festival in New Sweden back in 2006.
“Travis always brings such good bands. He gives us a chance to hear people we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise,” Smith said. “Being at a place like Thomas Park makes this even better.”
This year’s festival featured eight Maine-based folk, bluegrass and rock artists, including first-time Arootsakoostik performers Bad Combo, Milk & Honey Rebellion and Sara Trunzo, and the popular Maine folk group Ghost of Paul Revere, who served as the evening headliner.
During their energized music set, the Machias-based indie-rock band Milk & Honey Rebellion joked about starting off a northern Maine concert with an original tune called “Heading South.”
“We always enjoy heading north,” said lead singer and guitarist Chris Page.
The festival’s bands were not the only ones headed north for a while.
Brian and Abby Bell of Montville, and their three children have been frequent visitors to Aroostook County for many years. Brian Bell said that Arootsakoostik has long been on the family’s to-do list.
“We come [to Aroostook] as much as we can in winter and summer,” Brian Bell said. “We thought this [festival] would be a chance to hear some good music and spend time together.”
Von Kilpatrick of Fort Fairfield attended Arootsakoostik for the first time with her daughter and grandson, Meredith and Jackson Kilpatrick. Having just moved back to Aroostook County after 30 years away, Von was excited to catch up with friends and meet new people at the festival, all while enjoying great music.
“Where else can you hear this many good artists? It’s great that we have something like this in Aroostook,” Von Kilpatrick said.
Even in the early hours of the festival, Cyr could feel the laid-back, friendly nature of Arootsakoostik quickly coming back to Thomas Park.
“We could not have asked for anything better,” Cyr said. “I’m so grateful that we were able to bring this back. It’s rewarding and humbling to see all the people smiling and having a good time.”