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Update on the 73rd Maine Potato Blossom Festival, 2021

 

By:  Cheryl Boulier, Director
Maine Potato Blossom Festival

Fort Fairfield Journal, April 21, 2021

 

   I'm both excited and filled with hope that we will be able to hold our upcoming 73rd Maine Potato Blossom Festival on July 10-18, 2021.  I have carefully reviewed every event we have planned for this year and how we can best still hold those events safely and if needed come July, adhere to any CDC guidelines that may be in place then. We feel certain we can go ahead with most of our events with the exception of the following: Festival pageants, Mashed Potato Wrestling, Alumni Banquet, Wednesday Night Fiddlers, all Historical Society events, Spuddy Buddy Challenge & Inflatables at Family Night. Those events that are still being considered on a tentative bases are the Parade and some inside events. We will have a better idea of plans come May.
I will be doing current updates on all events on a regular bases on our Festival Facebook page (www.potatoblossomfestival.com) as well as the Town of Fort Fairfield website (www.fortfairfield.org) Please continue to check back often for updates.

   Having to cancel the Maine Potato Blossom Festival in 2020 for the first time in history was extremely disappointing not only for our Festival Committee who had already been working on plans since early October but for many others who have always thought of this annual event as a 'Homecoming" but we also realized it was the right decision to make for the wellbeing of many. Now a year later, our world has seen many challenges and lives have been changed in so many ways. So now we try to recoup and move forward to a much brighter year ahead with the new hope of the vaccines available now.

   For the most part many people do not realize the detail that is involved in preparing for an event of this size that this year will have close to (80) events held in a (9) day period. The planning stages start for the next year soon after the last Festival ends. It takes many faithful volunteers, sponsorship funding, both the Public Works Dept, as well as Public Safety as well as the Fire Dept. all working together to make (9) fun filled days happen.

   As the Director now for going on (3) years, I have been blessed with so much support from Town Manager, Andrea Powers and her staff as well as all the Town Departments and Council. My interaction with our sponsors this year has been so very positive and their support is vital to the success of the Maine Potato Blossom Festival.
Funding is a crucial part of being able to host the Maine Potato Blossom Festival in Fort Fairfield. Being awarded two grants this year, one from the Maine Office of Tourism for $10,000 and one from the Maine Ag in the Classroom program has helped tremendously. We are able this year to broaden our advertising base not only locally but also to include Southern Maine and areas outside Maine. We are also able to hire a professional photographer to help build our photo library with shots that best depict our area and how much we have to offer as well. As they say "A picture is worth a thousand words”, These grants have opened up opportunities we have never had before.

   The Maine Ag in the Classroom Grant will help fund a new event we hope to introduce this year which is an interactive educational exhibit where ages K-12 will be able to experience first hand what a "Family Day on the Farm' is all about. They will get to do several different farm chores from feeding the animals, planting potatoes and other veggies like broccoli, and harvesting what they have planted and several more. Along the way they will also learn the nutritional value of the foods they eat on their tables every day and the role of the farmer in that process. Once they’re done their chores they will be paid for their hard work and then can proceed to the farm store to purchase things like school supplies and healthy snacks.There will also be door prizes drawn and opportunities for photo shots.

   This event will be held in conjunction with our annual Family Night on Thursday, July 15th from 5-8pm. To replace the usual inflatables that are not available this year due to some covid guidelines, Kevin Senell our Recreation Director will be offering an inflatable archery game.

   We owe a huge thank you to the following sponsors for funding the (14) new picnic table umbrellas needed. Aroostook Savings & Loan, Machias Savings Banks and Katahdin Trust Bank. We also want to thank Versant Power for their generous donation towards the purchase of our much needed (14) new folding picnic tables for our food court area. We need to be able to keep up with those things needed to accommodate our visitors and things like adequate seating is necessary.

   FYI: One of my duties as the Festival director is to be a good steward of the funds appropriate to me through the generosity of many sponsors as well as the grant funding we have been awarded and I take this responsibility very seriously. So, to clear up any misinformation, I want to report that our Festival is running in the black and has been for some time now. Previous Directors before me have also worked very hard to achieve this goal which takes more planning and work than anyone could possibility imagine. It’s always best to get information correct before speaking.

   The Maine Potato Blossom Festival is still a major Homecoming event for many as well as a tourist destination point that still draws thousands of people to our area. This provides an economic value to not only Fort Fairfield but the surrounding communities as well. It also serves to build an awareness of Aroostook County and the values of rural living.

   I'm looking forward to a fun filled Festival this year and the joy in being able to celebrate together again, even with a few changes and potential safety measures in place. If anyone has any questions, please use the following contact information. email: mpbf@fortfairfield.org or call: Cheryl@ 207-768-6911 or cell@ 207-227-0749. Please leave me a message if I'm not available. For all vendor information contact: Ann Hull@ mpbfvendor@fortfairfield.org . Please do not call the Town Office for information or any registrations. All registration forms will be posted on the Town website@ www.fortfairfield.org as well as any updates on events.