The Maine bicentennial celebrations kick off next month, with community events and concerts. The restaurant boom continues, with new openings in Portland and Biddeford. It’s been a great ski season so far, and there are some insider tips about hitting Maine’s family mountains. Windjammer season is on the horizon, and it promises to be a busy year with sailings that mark the bicentennial. The Abbe Museum Indian Market has been such a success that it’s returning for a third year and a blockbuster show of the works of Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington is headed for the Portland Museum of Art. 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

Maine Bicentennial

In 2020, Maine will celebrate 200 years of statehood with tall ships, fireworks, parades and community suppers. During the year, the deep history and culture of the native Wabanaki Nations will be recognized throughout the state. Schooner races, concerts and a Christmas finale in Portland are all part of the planned bicentennial festivities. In the next month, visitors can look forward to Statehood Weekend, celebrated in Augusta and statewide, on March 14-15, 2020, with Saturday night bean suppers with food drives, plus speeches, poetry, music and more. Maine’s 200th: Music of Early Maine is the DaPonte String Quartet’s tribute to Maine’s bicentennial, with concerts throughout March 2020 in Brunswick, Belfast, Newcastle, Portland and Rockport. The Quartet is joined by guest artist Eric LaPerna, percussion, for a program that highlights significant events along Maine’s pre-statehood timeline (from the 16th to the early 19th centuries), with music selected to share some of the cultural influences. Go to Maine200 for more details.

Maine Restaurant News

The blizzard of new restaurant openings in Maine continues even in winter. The latest ones include Magnus on Water in Biddeford, the newest addition to the burgeoning Biddeford/Saco food scene. It has a hip cocktail bar and owners who are veterans of the celebrated Elda in Biddeford. Ada’s is a new Italian place in Portland (the original is in Rockland) that’s offering a creative selection of pastas and pizzas, as well as wine, beers and Italian soft drinks. The new 207 Bar & Restaurant recently opened in Portland and serves Afro-Caribbean fare. In springtime, look for Via Vechia, which is opening in the great space that formerly housed Vignola/Cinque Terra.

Skiing Maine’s Family Mountains

Maine family ski areaWhile many skiers in Maine head to its two biggest resorts, Sugarloaf and Sunday River, locals and those in the know often choose to ski at the state’s smaller mountains. Many Maine residents got their start on skis on these mountains, places that still offer an affordable, laid back, family-friendly vibe. They include Shawnee Peak in Bridgton in western Maine, which offers night skiing on six lift-serviced trails and three terrain parks. The community-owned Camden Snow Bowl is situated on 1,300-foot Ragged Mountain, which offers skiers incredible views of Penobscot Bay. Mt. Abram has 10 beginner, 21 intermediate and 13 expert trails, making it a great mountain for families, while Black Mountain in Rumford has 1,380 feet of vertical, the third longest in the state, as well as night skiing. Go to Visit Maine for a complete look at Maine’s family ski resorts.

Looking Ahead

Maine Windjammer News

Maine windjammerThis bicentennial year is the perfect time to celebrate Maine’s maritime history by sailing on a windjammer. The Maine Windjammer Association is the largest fleet of working windjammers in America, with eight vessels. Collectively, the fleet offers two of the oldest documented windjammers in America and four National Historic Landmarks. Built from 1871 to 1983, the Maine Windjammer Association fleet includes the Lewis R. French, Victory Chimes, Heritage, Angelique, Ladona, Stephen Taber, Mary Day and American Eagle. Maine Windjammer Cruises represents three windjammers – Grace Bailey, Mercantile and Mistress – that also offer multi-day cruises in Penobscot Bay. Go to Visit Maine for more info.


Abbe Museum Indian Market

Abbe Museum, Mt. Desert Island, Maine
Abbe Museum, Mt. Desert Island, Maine

For the third year in a row, Maine will host an Indian market in Bar Harbor from May 15-17, 2020. This market has historic roots reaching back to the encampment period, from about 1840 to 1920. That’s when Wabanaki artists and craftsmen — people who have lived in Pesamkuk, the place now called Mount Desert Island and Frenchman Bay, for thousands of generations — would travel to tourist areas, like Bar Harbor in the summer to sell baskets and other items supplementing their income. Native American artists and performers from 35 Nations across the U.S. and Canada will attend the Abbe Museum Indian Market (AMIM). Modeled after markets like the Heard and Santa Fe (SWAIA), the Abbe Museum Indian Market is the first multi-day event of its kind in New England that invites Native American artists from across North America to participate, with the goal of developing Bar Harbor as the destination for Northeastern Native Art. The event will include a fashion show, film festival, storytelling, dancing, music, and internationally acclaimed performers. The Abbe Museum is Maine’s first and only Smithsonian Affiliate.

Mythmakers: The Art of Winslow Homer & Frederic Remington

Portland Museum of Art
Portland Museum of Art

The Portland Museum of Art will unveil one of its biggest shows of 2020 in July when it opens Mythmakers: The Art of Winslow Homer & Frederic Remington. Pairing these two icons of American art, one known for coastal paintings, the other for Western images, is an inspired idea. They both succeeded in capturing the quintessential American spirit through works of art at the turn of the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Homer (1836-1910) was known for his masterful depictions of the Maine coast while Remington (1861-1909) became famous for his iconic representations of the American West. The exhibit will be on view from July 1 – September 27, 2020.