I often form a column title before I start writing. Some writers do it at the end and some during. I had initially thought, “Festivals, Food and Fun”, but “fun” seemed redundant, as balloons often imply fun. Releasing balloons into the air is not good for our earth’s habitat, but who hasn’t enjoyed the sight of balloons at a festival? I’ve read about balloons that are more environmentally friendly, but I’ve also read that for now, they need more development.
My first recollection of a festival brings memory of a certain balloon. When I was a child, my mother and I would take a spring break to Lexington, MA to celebrate Patriot’s Day.
There was always a big parade, lots of food, people, and of course, balloons. Once, my mother purchased a large, clear, helium balloon for me that had a green, teddy bear balloon inside. It was the balloon within a balloon part that captured my attention. The balloon had a long tail and as we progressed to the perfect viewing spot, the balloon trailed gaily behind, as I tight-fisted it to prevent its escape. I gave it plenty of lead, as I was entranced by its cheerful quest for the best viewing, which meant it had to be high above the heads of the gathering crowd. This worked well, until the parade started and I forgot to hang on to the tail! Like an errant child, suddenly noticing its opportunity for freedom and with my five year old, squeal of dismay closely behind, away the balloon went! I can still see my mother heroically leaping across tall beings and snatching it from its intended escape! She made a magical slip knot and secured the balloon to my wrist. Although, in spite of best intentions, that balloon and I had a few more adventures playing escape and capture.
I think it’s safe to assume festivals have been around since the beginning of time. I googled “festival” for an idea of the date of the first festival ever. My searches kept coming up with the “Glastonbury Festival” in 1970. I find this particularly peculiar, as it’s not really very old. The first one was the day after Jimi Hendrix died. As a celebration of music, art and culture, I think Jimi would have approved. It was the inspiration of Michael Eavis, owner of Worthy Farm in Pilton, England. I know this to be true, as I read it on gigwise.com. We all know what you read on the internet is true. The first festival promised free milk with the admission price of one British pound. You have to love those darn hippies (she writes with sincerity and a smile). The price and the number of people attending has risen, so I trust it was a good idea, although, the third Glastonbury festival wasn’t planned. People “heard” there was going to be a festival and showed up. This shows you, merely the idea of a festival carries hope and heart.
It’s April and festival season in Maine has begun. I have a few favorites. The “Maine Fiddlehead Festival: Local Food Day” is on the grounds of University of Maine at Farmington, Saturday, May 7th, – 10am – 3pm. It celebrates farmers; other food producers; the opening of the local farmer’s market; and foraging, particularly the fiddlehead fern. There’s music (big name performers like Jon Boy and The Plinksters), food sampling, activities and barnyard animals.
I also love the “Yarmouth Clam Festival”. This year the 51st will be held July 15th – 17th. Any way you can imagine clams and other seafood can be prepared, you will find it here. A parade marks the opening on Friday night and is complete with clowns, fire trucks, street artists and music! You should arrive early and bring your appetite.
If you love hot air balloons, you don’t want to miss the “Great Falls Balloon Festival”, August 19th – 21st in Lewiston/Auburn, Maine. These balloons are larger than my favorite childhood balloon (cue Fifth Dimension). The mission of the festival organizers has been to provide non-profit fundraising opportunities and celebrate community, while promoting the twin cities. A balloon ride is on my bucket list. Maybe this will be the year I schedule one on the festival website, www.greatfallsballoonfestival.org. Hot air balloons are breathtaking to view. Bring your camera.
Maine celebrates everything! Google “Maine festivals 2016”, or check your local paper for listings and details. A scavenger hunt for finding Maine festivals with food and balloons would make a fun summer activity!