Festival Attracts Art Enthusiasts to Downtown Calais

Accompanying Blackfinger Battalion during the Arts Alive! Riverfront Art Festival is guest singer Penny Young. The Eastport-based band, which specializes in classic rock, was among the musical performers during the event. The band members are Scott Young on lead guitar, bassist Laura Lane, and drummer Luke Lane. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson 

It is never easy to plan an outdoor event in Maine, and on Saturday, September 9th, it appeared that rains would wash out the Arts Alive! Riverfront art extravaganza in Calais. As the rain began to ease by late morning, however, participants and vendors came out in earnest for a brief but vigorous engagement.

The event, which was sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Chamber of Commerce, involved several local businesses and 21 professional artists. Each of the participating artists set up a booth in either Triangle Park or the garden area around the fountain. Participants were encouraged to visit St. Croix Media, Mimi’s Kitchen, Artemis’s Attic, Rachel Ashley Jewelers, Mercier’s Hair Salon, and Jo’s Diner to collect art supplies to comprise a complementary art kit. Each of the businesses offered a free raffle simultaneously, giving participants a chance to win a free website, a meal, a haircut, or gift cards. Art lessons and supplies were provided in Triangle Park, accompanied by music from Blackfinger Battalion of Eastport and multiple performances by the students of Barbara’s School of Dance. More than 150 children and adult participants partook in the lessons despite the rain.

“It was a joy to see so many people enjoying themselves,” said Helen Messemer-Thomas, Director of the Chamber of Commerce. Many of the professional artists stayed for the entire weekend, and all them reported increased sales over previous years. Business owners noted the increased traffic during the event.

“We’ve had many people,” said Shari Doten, owner of Artemis’s Attic. “You wouldn’t believe the families coming in.” She said that the event had good participation with the youth, ranging in ages from 2-12. At Rachel Ashley Jewelers, where participants were asked to write what town they were from for the raffle, Jayna Smith noted that many were from out of town.

The organizers wish to thank all of the volunteers and local sponsors, including Jo’s Diner, PCT Communications, Machias Savings Bank, Woodland Pulp, The First National Bank, FA Peabody, Calais Screen Printing, WQDY,  International Motel and City of Calais.

Community members came out in droves to participate in the free art lessons and supplies provided during the Arts Alive! Riverfront Art Festival on Saturday, September 9th. Blackfinger Battalion supplied the artists with classic rock to paint by. (Photo by Lura Jackson) See story on page 2.