One of my favorite Maine festivals is happening this weekend, the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival. This one is more than a simple festival, it’s a full weekend event, a pull-out the stops community celebration with such must-attend activities as:
• the Blueberry Musical: This year, it’s Rakealot, a blueberry romance based on Camelot. This is a don’t miss event. The production changes every year, but the talent, which rivals big-city productions, is all local, from the writers and directors to the musicians and the cast, and the theme always centers around Machias, blueberries and how Down Easters deal with life Down East. During the show, visitors learn a little more about harvesting, and there’s always a moral twist. “After all, this is a church,” said a former musical coordinator, “we have to keep the spirit of the house intact.” You might not get every local reference, but you’ll recognize the music (with different words, of course; as one participant told me: “it’s fruitified”) and you’ll get the gist of it all. Performances are scheduled Tuesday through Saturday; it’s always a sell out.
• blueberry pie-eating contest: Serious competition in these parts, with a lottery determining who will compete in four age groupings of 10 contestants: 7-10, 11-14, 15-18, and adults. Always fun to watch.
• cooking contest: Not simply pies, no this contest is open to everything blueberry. Just check out these categories: Appetizers, Breads, Rolls & Muffins, Coffee Cakes, Dessert Cakes, Cookies, Bars & Squares, Doughnuts, Desserts & Puddings, Jams & Jellies, Pancakes & Waffles, One-Crust Pies, Two-Crust Pies, Salads, Punch & Wines, Relishes, Entrees, and Sugar-Free recipes. And yes, everything must be made from scratch.
• Blueberry Farm Tours: Learn the difference between high- and low-bush bluberries and see how they’re harvested.
• the Blackfly Ball, Sat. Aug. 21: a free community-oriented dress-up dance. This year’s music will be provided by the Orange River Jazz Band, the UMM Ukulele Club, and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. The Debo band will play on a second stage at Bad Little Falls Park. How cool is that!
• 250+ craft vendors: Individuals as well as nonprofits including the Maine Blackfly Breeders Association (might not want to approach that one without a healthy dosing of DEET).
Other events include: Children’s Parade and kids activities, quilt raffle, Friday night fish fry, blueberry pancake breakfasts, and a Saturday baked bean supper.
The festival is sponsored by the Centre Street Congregational Church, so there’s also a Sunday morning service that’s open to everyone, too.