Summer in Maine means many things. Having BBQ's with friends, seafood by the water, heading to camp, fairs and festivals. There is so much going on in this area every weekend, it's impossible to do everything. I try to always make it to at least one of the Alive at Five performances in Monument Square, though, this year it's just local acts that we have all seen a dozen times already. Freeport's Outdoor Concert Series always has some great bands, with this year being no exception. I saw Trombone Shorty, an extremely talented musician out of New Orleans, last weekend, and am really looking forward to Mike Doughty in a few weeks. With so much going on, how do you decide what to do? My choice for this weekend, none of the above.
As you all know, I grew up in the quiet northern Maine town of Fort Fairfield. There isn't much there, that much is certain. We have one set of traffic lights, a grocery store and a few gas stations. The one big thing my hometown has is the Maine Potato Blossom Festival. It's the one time of year that anything happens in town. The town literally turns from about 3000 people to nearly 2-3 times that during this big weekend. Events such as high school reunions, the street dance, mashed potato wrestling and the giant parade attract people from all over. It's the one time of year that you can be sure to see someone you haven't seen in a while.
Now, I still have a good number of friends and my grandparents up there. I have millions of fond memories of growing up in The County. I loved the small town feel, the close knit community was great. I knew everyone, and everyone knew me. After college, I decided to try something else on for size. I moved to southern Maine, looking for a change of pace. I was looking for more opportunities and options, and I found all that and more. Moving to the Greater Portland area has been the best thing in the world for me. I have my wonderful daughter a town away (when she isn't with me), my parents and sister just down the road, and I met my wonderful wife down here. We have a great home and jobs that we love. Things couldn't be better. In fact, I often completely forget about what life was like growing up in Fort Fairfield. Then comes July and the annual Maine Potato Blossom Festival.
This is the one time of year, without fail, that I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic. I miss drinking on Main Street during the parade (out of red Solo cups, of course). I miss seeing all the great people I went to school with, in fact, I even miss those schoolmates I never really talked to or hung out with. It's the familiar faces you miss after you move away. I miss the old adult dance, and now the street dance. Someone was always having a party, and half the town would show up. Mashed potato wrestling is something one simply can't explain, it needs to be seen to be appreciated. Back in the day when we had the "Anything That Floats" race down the river. I just remember seeing people absolutely wasted floating under the bridge in their rickety floats they put together, and thinking that I couldn't wait to be able to do that too. Just so many fun memories of this time of year. It's hard not to look back and smile.
So, another year has come, and another year will pass without me heading up north for my hometowns big weekend. I swear every year that I am going up, and for the last 3 years I have been right where I am today, feeling nostalgic and smiling about the great times I've had in the past. So, to those of you spending any time in Fort Fairfield over the next few days, enjoy yourselves. Oh, and if you want to send me down a fried dough, I would be alright with that! I'm just saying...