This is the month to explore the studios and creative sites for three of Maine’s most revered visual artists. To see the work of latter-day craftspeople at a restored mill in Biddeford. Or to mark the calendar for an excursion to one of Maine’s classic fall festivals. For writers, editors and bloggers looking for short-lead news, you’ll find immediate details under Happening Now. Those in search of longer lead news can scroll down to the Looking Ahead section.

Happening Now

Whale Watching in Maine

Humpback whale off Maine’s coast

Maine’s whale watching season runs through early October and a handful of tour operators offer day trips to see the earth’s largest living creatures a mere 20 miles off the Maine coast. This is an opportunity to spot humpback whales, pilot whales, minke whales and finback whales. Less commonly seen but still possible to glimpse are sei whales, sperm whales, orcas and right whales. Head out with Bar Harbor Whale Watch, which has taken visitors out to the Gulf of Maine for more than 25 years. In Boothbay, Cap’n Fish’s Whale Watch has offered trips for more than 80 years while First Chance Whale Watch in Kennebunkport and Odyssey Whale Watch in Portland offer trips in the southern end of the state. Downeast, there’s Robertson Sea Tours and Adventures in Millbridge and Tarquin Whale Watch in Lubec. Find out more at Visit Maine.

Penobscot River Trails

Penobscot River Trails
Penobscot River Trails

The new Penobscot River Trails is the creation of philanthropist Gilbert Butler and was funded through the Butler Conservation Fund. This is a network of more than 15 miles of earthen and gravel trails situated in a pristine riverside wilderness off Route 11 near Medway. The privately owned 5,000-acre preserve held a winter opening in February when it unveiled 25 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails and two warming huts. But, summer outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy it, as well. The trails, designed for both hiking and mountain biking, are free and open to the public from July throughout the summer and fall. The property includes a hand-boat launch for small boat recreationists wishing to paddle on the East Branch of the Penobscot River. A visitor center and two huts provide comfortable resting and picnicking options for visitors. The entrance to the Penobscot River Trails is 12 miles north of the Medway exit and off Route 11 (Grindstone Road) in Soldiertown Township. Visit Penobscot River Trails.

Portland Brewery Hop

Portland brewery hop
Portland brewery hop

Portland now has more than a dozen breweries and creating a self-guided pub tour has never been easier. Some of the lesser-known breweries include Foulmouthed Brewing, a small brewpub, located in an old auto garage in South Portland. The small menu pairs well with beers such as Munchen Klumpen, a German-style Marzen lager, or the more exotic Yuzo Kosho Gose, a Sour Gose style with salt, yuzu peel and chilies. Goodfire Brewing pours beers such as Old Night, a VSB Collaboration Double IPA, and other beers such as I’m New Here, a hoppy pilsner. Liquid Riot Bottling commemorates the Portland Rum Riot of 1855. Located on the waterfront in Portland’s Old Port, it was Maine’s first brewery/distillery/resto-bar and pours beers such as Bobo Pivo, a classic Czech-style Pilsner, as well as Irish Goodbye, a local rendition of Irish stout. Finally, Rising Tide Brewing brews Dockside light lager and Maine Island Trail Ale, with a portion of the proceeds from the sale benefitting the Maine Island Trail Association. Visit the Maine Brewers Guild for more info.

Looking Ahead

Maine Artists Homer, Wyeth and Langlais

The Langlais Sculpture Preserve in Cushing
The Langlais Sculpture Preserve in Cushing

In a state blessed with connections to fine artists, Maine has three extraordinary locales that are well worth a special trip. The Langlais Sculpture Preserve in Cushing is a nature and sculpture park celebrating the artist Bernard Langlais’s legacy. Established on a portion of Langlais’s Cushing homestead, the Preserve retains several of Langlais’s outdoor sculptures in situ, including the thirteen-foot Horse, Langlais’s first monumental outdoor work and a landmark of Cushing’s River Road. Visitors will also see his satirical depiction of Richard Nixon in a marshy pond and his sculptural homage to Christina Olson, the local woman featured in Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 masterpiece, Christina’s World, among other works. The Olson House is also in Cushing, the subject of numerous works of art by Andrew Wyeth, including his painting Christina’s World, which is now in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Wyeth’s series of drawings, watercolors and tempera paintings featuring Christina Olson, her brother Alvaro and the house itself occupied Wyeth from 1939 through 1968. The house is now part of the Farnsworth Museum. The Winslow Homer Studio is where the American painter Winslow Homer lived and worked from 1883 to 1910. This coastal studio in Prouts Neck was purchased by the Portland Museum of Art in 2006, and the renovated studio is now open for guided tours.

Pepperell Mill Campus

The city of Biddeford has been renovating many of its historic buildings and the symbol for the revival must be the historic Pepperell Mill Campus, a factory complex that has been converted into a 17-acre community of homes, businesses, art galleries, restaurants and shops. The shops are largely independently owned and feature the work of local crafters, artists and clothing designers. Watch live glass blowing at Joseph Webster Glass, sip some local brew from Nuts & Bolts Brewing and take home something for dinner from Maine Saltwater Creations. Located at 2 Main Street in Biddeford.

Fall Festivals

Autumn in Maine means multi-day festivals to celebrate the harvest, a last hurrah before the onset of winter. Start on the coast, where the contest for the biggest pumpkin is a highlight of the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta from October 13 to 15. There are also pumpkin carving artists, childrens’ events, and of course, the pumpkin catapult and the Pumpkinboat Regatta. The Sunday River Fall Festival from October 11-13 offers a family-friendly celebration with live music, the legendary North American Wife Carrying Championship, the 35th annual Blue Mountain Arts & Crafts Fair and the New England Corn Hole Championships. In Boothbay, the Annual Fall Foliage Festival from October 13-15 will have dozens of vendors with crafts and food ranging from lobster rolls and hot cider to fish chowder and kettle corn. There will be narrow gauge steam train rides and the Museum’s Village Green, a four-acre lawn surrounded by historic buildings and structures, is center stage for entertainment. Acadia’s Oktoberfest Beer, Food, Music & Crafts Festival will feature a wine tasting and a brewfest. The 21st annual Freeport Fall Festival, from October 4-6, will have a juried art show, live music, artisanal food and the Chowdah Challenge.

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