Traditional Saturday night fare, iconic bird calls, outdoor concerts, summer theater performances, agricultural fairs, lake association meetings, business and community anniversaries, games, competitions and recreation all on, near or in view of water, woods and open lands.
August is the high point of summery celebrations, of festivals, of get-togethers, some once-a-season traditions, some the end of a successful summer-long series, some for profit, some as benefits, some just for fun and free. And they all involve significant and beautiful settings. In Belgrade Lakes, where outdoor concerts on the Village Green have supplied weekly entertainment and where outdoor craft shows and coffeehouse music have supplied monthly entertainment, the first Saturday, August 5, offers two events that have endured for at least four decades: the Bean Hole Supper and the Loon Calling Contest.
The supper, which is held at Belgrade's Center for All Seasons on Great Pond and which features beans cooked overnight using a wood-burning fire pit, not only represents the traditional Saturday night bean supper but also the legacy of an era when logs were transported (driven) on Maine's major rivers, when cooks traveled downstream a day ahead of the drive to make fire pits so that hot beans, cooked overnight, would be ready when the workers arrived. The Bean Hole Supper benefits the Belgrade Fire & Rescue Association.
The Loon Calling imitating a call like none other is an absolute ode to the Maine lake setting today and millions of years ago. Held on the Belgrade Stream at the bridge between Belgrade Lakes and Rome, the contest is open to all ages and open to spectators by land and by boat. The location not only provides a scenic setting of the stream on one side of the road and Long Pond on the other but is historically significant for the early water-powered mills that lined the stream.
While the first August weekend in Belgrade Lakes is dedicated to bean hole beans and loon calling, the predominant event in other small lake towns is the outdoor concert, almost always near water or in a scenic park. Although seasonal schedules are tapering off, the possibility of attending an outdoor music concert every night of the week continues into August. A bonus: Most of them involve scenic destination drives.
Not outdoors, but nonetheless a scenic drive away are the region's two summer theaters: Lakewood on the shores of Lake Wesserunsett whose schedule continues into September and The Theater at Monmouth in historic Cumston Hall where a repertory selection of plays will be offered through mid-August.
Although there are agricultural fairs nonstop throughout the summer throughout the state, a favorite in the area begins the second week in August. Skowhegan State Fair runs from Thursday, August 10 through Saturday, August 19 and offers an extensive schedule of entertainment, horse racing, exhibits, competitions, food options, a midway and the opportunity to immerse in the products, produce and livestock of rural Maine.
There are many reasons to attend lake association meetings but the one that goes without saying is the setting of the gathering: golf courses, camps, parks, private clubs and halls, public facilities and community centers. By August most of the meetings have been held but in the Belgrades two remain: on August 10, the McGrath Pond/Salmon Lake Association will hold it annual meeting in Oakland's Pleasant Point Park on McGrath Pond and on August 14 the North Pond Association will meet at Pine Tree Camp on North Pond in Rome.
Two anniversaries are being formally celebrated the first week in August. Hathaway Mill Antiques in the restored historic former Hathaway Shirt Factory on the Kennebec River is celebrating its sixth anniversary and the town of Skowhegan, also on the Kennebec River, is celebrating its 200th anniversary.
The celebration of Skowhegan's Bicentennial will be part of another significant celebration in Skowhegan: River Fest, when many facets of the scenic and recreational value of the Kennebec River are highlighted through activities on and near the water.
Celebrations aside, it is not too late in the summer to just enjoy all the recreational opportunities, the beautiful settings, the scenic drives and the privilege that almost every outing to something planned or on the personal agenda is on, near or in view of a beautiful setting of water, woods and open lands.
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