Expanded Old Port Festival starts Friday in Portland

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PORTLAND — For the first time this year, visitors to the Old Port Festival can make a weekend of it.

The expanded festival, organized by Portland’s Downtown District, opens Friday at 6 p.m. with the First Friday Art Walk along Congress Street and wraps up Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m.

In between, festival visitors can ride the “Casco Bay Eye,” a 90-foot gondola wheel in the parking lot outside DiMillo’s Restaurant on Commercial Street, explore the city’s working waterfront Saturday with a self-guided tour, and take in the traditional Shoe String Theatre parade on Exchange Street beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday.

The 41st annual Old Port Festival has expanded in days and territory, encompassing the Old Port, Arts District, Monument Square and Lincoln Park.

Along with open galleries and street performances, the First Friday Art Walk will feature two Monument Square performances by members of the Circus Conservatory of America. Congress Street will be closed to vehicle traffic from State to Elm streets from 6-9 p.m. Friday. A parking ban on the same stretch runs from 4-9 p.m.

On Saturday, a scavenger hunt featuring downtown businesses will begin at 11 a.m. at Key Bank in Monument Square. Participants are suggested to form teams of two to four people, wear comfortable footwear and will need a smartphone to download the scavenger hunt app and to take pictures and videos.

The hunt concludes at the Casco Bay Eye, with a prize drawing at 2 p.m. The top scavenger hunt prize is use of a Hadlock Field sky box for 22 people, with a $200 food credit, good for the July 6 game against New Britain.

Also on Saturday, a self-guided walking tour from Becky’s Diner on Commercial Street to the Maine State Pier runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Lincoln Park, extending along Congress Street from Pearl Street to Franklin Arterial, will be the site of noon and 2 p.m. shows by Circus Conservatory of America and will include audience participation.

After Sunday’s parade, the festival will stretch through the Old Port with six stages of live music, local crafts on display and for sale, amusement rides on Federal Street, and children’s activities in Post Office Park. More than 40 acts are scheduled to play the festival.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.