Harspwell stages annual festival, shindig, lobster boat races

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HARPSWELL — Mitchell Field will be transformed from a quiet, former fuel farm this weekend to an outright carnival.

The eighth annual Harpswell Festival, Shindig and Lobster Boat Races begin Saturday at 11 a.m. and continue through Sunday.

Saturday’s lineup includes musical acts, a parade, carnival games and fireworks. The music ranges from Motor Booty Affair (“the ultimate disco party band”) to a woodwind ensemble from the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Several troupes will perform a variety of dances, from Scottish to country to belly dancers.

For the less musically inclined, the Mt. Ararat Class of 2012 is hosting carnival games as part of a graduation fundraiser. Festival Executive Director Tom Allen said the games are a new addition and a direct response to requests for more interactive activities.

All the games were designed and constructed by the students, and include classic carnival activities like a bean-bag toss, mini-golf putting and ring toss. Other students have designed video-game inspired creations called Harpswell Nerf Thunder Dome and Harpswell Ninja Warriors.

“We’ve never had the number of games that these kids have put together,” Allen said.

There will also be a dunk tank, a bungee jump and a human-sized “hamster ball.”

At 1 p.m. antique cars, gigantic puppets and costumed Harpswell residents will parade, with Ruth Weeks presiding as the grand marshal.

After the music dies down and the sun sets, festival organizers will launch fireworks.

Festivities resume Sunday with the Harpswell Shindig and Lobster Boat Races.

Selectman Alison Hawkes and others started the Shindig last year to provide on-shore entertainment for those viewing the lobster boat races. Like Saturday’s festival, there will be games, food vendors, and arts and crafts vendors. Offshore, lobster boats will be drag racing while live commentary is provided over a loud speaker.

The event is free, although Hawkes said donations are encouraged. Once the Shindig’s costs are covered, all excess money will go toward the Harpswell Santa Fund, which provides clothing and gifts for needy families during the holidays.

Allen, who has been involved with the festival from the beginning, said he is excited to show off Mitchell Field to residents and visitors alike.

“(The festival) is a way of promoting that land and making people aware of its beautiful setting and just the fact that it is ours,” he said. “It is a celebration of the town, for the town.”

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext.123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.

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