On the Blueberry Festival in Machias
Machias is two hours from my house, if there’s no traffic. My way-cool sister lives two hours from me, in the other direction. Which made it fairly obvious, when she asked if I’d like to go to the Blueberry Festival with her, that she was suffering from the same kind of restlessness that I was. Which was fine. Because the 36th annual Machias Blueberry Festival was this past weekend…and we went.
I’d been to the Blueberry Festival before–I once even sold soap at the craft fair, and yes, blueberry soap was a big hit–but Susie had never been. Still, a blueberry is a blueberry, and as we’d grown up in close proximity to a fairly large field of them, we both felt the primal call of the tiny blue incredibly sweet antioxident-filled baby. Not to mention the beautiful weather, the pleasant (and, on Saturday, rowdy) shiretown of Washington County, and the lure of the road trip. We ditched the car somewhere near Helen‘s, a restaurant famous for pies (I recommend the chocolate cream pie myself), and wandered back up to Center Street and the environs, where every open grassy plot and parking lot was covered by vendors’ tents.
There were crafts of every description on sale, including knitted goods, which always fascinate my sister (she looks at them and imagines how to make them, much as I do with food). Every third tent seemed to house a jewellery maker: earrings appeared to be the hot ticket. Susie and I stopped at an ice cream vendor in the lower lot by the bank; he was selling two flavors, blueberry and whoopie pie, so we bought one dish of each and shared. The verdict? The whoopie pie ice cream was the better of the two, at least in our opinion. It was while we were coming to this verdict, however, that the Hungry March Band appeared, and marched their way vigorously through the lot and back, then up to the church steps on Center Street, where all the day’s music was happening. We followed, rather like the children following the Pied Piper.
Ironically, I had just been talking to my sister about Somerville’s HONK! Festival, the “festival of activist street bands” which is scheduled for the first weekend in October…and here was one of those wild and crazy street bands in person. Heavy on percussion, the Hungry March Band is primarily made up of brass players (be still, my foolish trumpeter’s heart), with a smattering of saxophones; they were led by a motley crew of a flag team, some wearing pirate ensembles, and were accompanied by a pair of dancers. Party band, indeed. They set up on the waterfall of church steps and had a spirited go, attracting innumerable spontaneous dancers in the middle of Center Street. It was impossible to drag ourselves away. They were, indeed, the high point of our afternoon in Machias, though the blueberry shortcake (“Special Sauce! New and Improved!”) the two men ladled up for us in front of the hall across from the church, our last treat of the day, was pretty awesome, too. And since Susie and I stopped in Addison and bought ten pounds of fresh blueberries on the way home, I can work on breaking the secret recipe of the special sauce this week.