Portland's Old Port Festival expanding to 4 days

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PORTLAND — For 41 years, the Old Port Festival has provided plenty of food, music and other entertainment.

On Monday, festival organizers said visitors should expect plenty more when the 42nd festival expands to four days, June 11-14, and adds a showcase of local merchants to the mix.

“We are trying to focus on the people who are here and really built the Old Port,” Portland’s Downtown District Executive Director Steve Hewins said in a press conference in the parking lot at DiMillo’s on the Water.

Hewins, Growing Portland Director John Spritz, Portland Buy Local Chairman Tony Cox and Waterfront Concerts President Alex Gray stood in the spot where a Ferris wheel called the Casco Bay Eye will open the festival Thursday, June 11, with rides beginning at noon.

Getting a bird’s-eye view of Portland from the Ferris wheel will cost $6 per ride.

Back on the ground, another new attraction will be “Second Shop Saturday” on June 13.

Portland Buy Local Ambassador Jen Thompson said the event will focus on shopping with independent Old Port merchants and include gift-bag give-aways at Tommy’s Park at Middle and Exchange streets.

Some of the gift-bag prizes will be concert tickets for an expanded outdoor concert series at the Maine State Pier.

“We are excited as a Maine company to be part of something this historic,” Gray said about the lineup that features blues guitarists Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Lang on June 11, Rusted Root and the Wailers on June 12, and singer songwriters Rachel Yamagata and David Gray June 13.

Concert information and tickets are available at waterfrontconcerts.com.

The festival also features the return of “Walk the Working Waterfront” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 12. From Becky’s Diner to the Maine State Pier, visitors will be able to stroll waterfront businesses, including seafood processors. The walk includes tours of the Portland fire boat and a 110-foot U.S. Coast Guard Cutter.

The main festival begins at 11 a.m., Sunday, June 14 with the traditional parade down Exchange Street. Six separate stages will host a variety of music, and Hewins said more than 150 vendors will participate.

Family events will be spread throughout the closed streets, including amusement rides and a rock-climbing wall on Federal Street, and activities from the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine at Post Office Park on Middle Street.

For the full festival schedule, visit oldportfestival.net.

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

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.