American Folk Festival in Bangor, ME

The grocery stores are empty of water and beer here in Maine (for every ounce of water I saw in a cart at the store today, I saw two ounces of beer) as we prepare for a hurricane that will probably go west of us. Rather than join in on the preparations, my family and I went to the American Folk Festival in Bangor, ME today. With six stages, a bunch of performers, a sunny day and ton of food trucks – a good time was had by all! There do not appear to be videos of the performers online yet, but I’ll link them as soon as they are.

We saw eight different groups perform and they were all pretty good. Some, like the Egyptian group, Zikryat, and the Chinese group, Bing Xia, we only caught the last song or two. I wish I could have heard more. The Congolese group, Samba Ngo, sounded surprisingly like Paul Simon.

Samba Ngo performs on the Railroad Stage.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Eskimo performers – not only did they do one of their numbers in full fur parkas, but they also explained all of their songs before singing them in their native language. My favorite was the song commemorating the Eskimos learning to read and write. The leader was charismatic and quite the pocket person.

But the best performer we saw today was Eden Brent, a blues singer/pianist/songwriter. She was funny and engaging and exciting. There is a strange disconnect between this sweet looking woman and the “dirty old woman” voice that comes out. Not that I am complaining. The performance was excellent. We bought her album there (I know – how quaint) and would have listened to it on the way home if we hadn’t been distracted by NPR. I lead a terribly exciting life.

Eden Brent - A Dirty Old Voice in an innocent face (via

The music was all well and good and not a bad way to spend a sunny (if a bit muggy) 75 degree day, but what made this a destination in Maine today was the food. Wow, was there a lot of food. There was food from all over – India, the Middle East, New Orleans, Thai, wherever baked beans really come from… Nevertheless, we gravitated towards the local delicacies: I started with locally raised lamb that got all over my shirt and jeans. It was worth it, though. Wow, was it good. After watching a bit of Irish step dancing, I went for the wild Maine blueberry course. With the cup of purple goodness in front of me, it wasn’t a choice of should I or shouldn’t I, it was a choice between pinkish-purple or blueish-purple straws through which to consume it.

Oxidants in your blood? Not a problem after having one of these smoothies!

There were all of your typical fair-type foods available, including the blooming onion (ick), kettle corn (yum), donuts, etc. But where some fairs have deep-fried Twinkies, the American Folk Festival had salmon on a stick.

My dad, enjoying salmon on a stick.

After some Afro-Cuban dance numbers, we decided to head home. The sun was setting as we drove by (what might be) the largest statue of Paul Bunyan in (the city that claims to be) his birthplace (with some competition with Akeley, Minnesota). Not quite Crazy Horse, but better than the “World’s Largest Pheasant” (which I did see en route from Mitchell to De Smet, SD). The sunset really makes it, though.

Paul Bunyan - chopping trees in Bangor since 1959. Or earlier. Or not.


~ by Genevieve on August 27, 2011.

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