Caribou’s Sweden Street remains go-to summer destination after a decade

1 year ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Even unseasonably hot temperatures did not stop many people from celebrating 10 years of Caribou’s summer festival.

Thursdays on Sweden Street began in 2013 to bring more foot traffic to Caribou’s downtown. The biweekly events featuring craft and food vendors have been staples ever since, helping to build interest in downtown revitalization.

Caribou resident Nicole Michaud has seen the ups and downs of Sweden Street’s business history.

Michaud previously worked at Reno’s Family Restaurant, one of Sweden Street’s landmark restaurants that closed in 2020. Michaud has sold handcrafted picture frames, windowsill decorations and other home decor since the first Thursdays series.

Nicole Michaud of Caribou enjoys the evening while selling crafts at Thursdays on Sweden Street. Michaud is one of the original vendors who joined the festival in 2013. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

Since Reno’s closed in 2020, Michaud has relied on the Sweden Street festivities for catching up with former customers.

“I don’t see a lot of them anymore, but I see them here,” Michaud said. “For me, this is a night out. I don’t care if I don’t sell anything. I’m fine just enjoying the people and music.”

Despite temperatures in the 90s, hundreds turned out for the evening, many clapping to the beat as Grand Falls-based River Road Country Band played a more than two-hour set.

The smells of barbecue filled the air as families and friends enjoyed a quick meal or ice cream from the many food trucks lining Sweden Street.

Maine’s Bureau of Highway Safety was on hand to gather community feedback on what traffic safety campaigns should take priority this summer.

After stopping by some of the 32 booths, Chad and Erika Cochran of Caribou reflected on what Thursdays on Sweden Street means to their family, including 11-year-old Bailey and 6-year-old Chase.

“The kids like singing and dancing to the music,” Erika said.

Erika and Chad Cochran and their son Chase, 6, chat with Maine Bureau of Highway Safety Coordinator Jeremy Morin during Thursdays on Sweden Street. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

The Cochrans have enjoyed Thursdays on Sweden Street since its first year and are excited at how much the events have grown.

“There’s a lot more vendors now and different activities,” Chad said. “Life gets busy, so it’s nice to come here and run into different people.”

Keeping a community-friendly atmosphere has helped put Thursdays on Sweden Street on the map for Aroostook summer events, said Parks & Recreation Superintendent Gary Marquis.

Marquis has helped organize the festival since 2013, never once missing the activities.

With new businesses cropping up and The Caribou Theater getting new owners, there’s more interest than ever in the city’s downtown center, Marquis said.

“I’m very pleased with the turnout [this week],” Marquis said. “People keep coming because of what we offer: a clean, fun environment for families and people to gather.”

The next Thursdays on Sweden Street will be held June 15, with musical guest Star City Syndicate and The Par & Grill Restaurant hosting an outdoor cafe. Subsequent events will be held June 29, July 13 and 27 and Aug. 10.