March 2019 — March in Maine means at least another month of fantastic snowmobiling and plenty of weekends to plan a cozy winter stay at a classic inn. It’s also a great month to get ready for the start of fishing season in April. Restaurant reservations may also be in order, as the James Beard Awards have just announced their semi-finalists and six of the chefs are here in the state. On the horizon are the spring whale watching season and a landmark craft exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art. For writers, editors and bloggers looking for short-lead news, there are immediate details under Happening Now. Those in search of longer lead news can scroll down to the Looking Ahead section.
Snowmobiling: A Great Season Continues
This has been one of the best winters for snowmobiling in Maine in ages, and the riding season should continue to be a strong one throughout March. Thanks to the state’s 280 snowmobile clubs, Maine offers an astonishing 14,000 miles of marked snowmobile trails. While there are trails all over the state, many of the best areas are found in the sparsely settled North Country, especially the Jackman-Moose River area, the Moosehead Lake region and the Rangeley Lakes region. Serious sledders also head to the Millinocket and Katahdin area and the far north of Aroostook County. The website of Visit Maine has detailed information on snowmobile rentals and snowmobile outfitters.
Inns for a Last Winter Fling
The month of March brings longer days and often, more snow. It’s the perfect month for a final winter fling at a country inn. The Rangeley Inn has been welcoming visitors to explore the Rangeley Lakes region for more than a century. After a day of snowmobiling, ice fishing or Nordic skiing, the inn offers a warm welcome. The Bethel Inn Resort, not far from the Sunday River ski resort, dates from 1913. It has 40 kilometers of cross-country trails, spectacular views and a great location in one of Maine’s prettiest towns. The Norumbega Inn is a stone castle in Camden, with just 11 guest rooms and suites, not to mention views of Penobscot Bay. Or head to the Noble House Inn in Bridgton, an eight-room inn that was a former senator’s home and is within walking distance to everything that this quaint Western Maine town has to offer. For more, go to Visit Maine.
Six Maine Chefs are Semi-Finalists for the 2019 James Beard Awards
Planning a later winter or early spring road trip to Maine? Let these chefs be your guide, all of them on the short-list for the 2019 James Beard Awards. At the Palace Diner in Biddeford, Chefs Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell were named semi-finalists. Try their Lumberjack Breakfast or Palais Royale and Fries to see why. At The Purple House in Yarmouth, Chef Krista Kern Desjarlais makes scratch bagels, artisan breads, sweet and savory brioche, maple buckwheat financiers and Roman-style pizza. Keep driving, because further up the coast in Rockland is Suzuki’s Sushi Bar, one of the finest sushi restaurants in Maine, where Chef Keiko Suzuki Steinberger is yet another semi-finalist. Other Maine chefs singled out include Chef Erin French of The Lost Kitchen and Chef Vien Dobui, chef/owner of Cong Tu Bot in Portland. Click here to see the list of more than 400 semi-finalists. Finalists will be announced March 27 in Houston and winners will be announced at an awards gala in Chicago on May 6.
Getting Ready for Fishing Season
In the state of Maine, April 1 marks opening day for the open-water fishing season. Many fishermen and women will brave the chill on this and subsequent early spring days in the hope of landing a brook trout, landlocked salmon or smallmouth bass. It’s time to get reacquainted with the water, to go fly fishing on a small river, trolling on one of the lakes in the Rangeley Lakes region or patiently casting on a remote pond. Maine has some 6,000 lakes, ponds and rivers for anglers to try. Newbies to the sport can learn to cast at one of L.L. Bean’s Discovery Schools. Serious anglers can book a stay at one of the state’s sporting camps. More info can be found at Visit Maine.
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts at PMA
In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950-1969 at the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) is a groundbreaking exhibit that opens in May. It will explore how an experimental school in rural Maine transformed art, craft and design in the 20th century and helped define the aesthetics of the nation’s counterculture. Founded in 1950, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts played a central role in the development of American art and craft. The artists of the school’s early years—including Anni Albers, Jack Lenor Larsen, Dale Chihuly, Robert Ebendorf, M.C. Richards and Toshiko Takaezu—worked together to create a close-knit community of craftspeople whose work broke new ground across a wide range of media. In the Vanguard is the first major museum exhibition focused solely on this school, and its insights will revise the narrative of midcentury art and craft in America. The exhibition will run from May 24, 2019, to September 8, 2019. Visit PMA for more information.
Whale Watching Season
The Maine whale watching season begins in mid-April when hungry whales arrive 20 miles off the coast to begin feeding. Regular visitors include humpback whales, pilot whales, minke whales and finback whales. Other whales, such as sei whales, sperm whales, orcas and right whales, can occasionally be spotted. Bar Harbor Whale Watch, Cap’n Fish’s Whale Watch and First Chance Whale Watch are among the tour operators who run regularly scheduled trips out to see them. Go to Visit Maine for details.