30th Wilton Blueberry Festival Friday & Saturday
WILTON - Blue will be all the rage as this town celebrates its annual Wilton Blueberry Festival for the 30th year on Friday and Saturday, August 3 and 4.
Volunteers this morning helped spruce up the town along the parade route and in the Western Maine Expo in preparation for the festival as part of the United Way's 12 Days of Caring. The United Way of the Tri Valley Area of Farmington included the town of Wilton in its 15 project sites volunteers are helping out at now through September.
This year's Blueberry Festival promises to be even better with two days of nonstop entertainment and events, said organizer Shannon Smith.
"There's tons and tons of events," she said. (A complete schedule is posted below.)
New this year is the LL Bean Bootmobile, which will be in parked from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday at Western Maine Expo Center on Rt. 156/Weld Road. The fun includes kid-friendly activities and games. The Bootmobile, actually a Ford pickup disguised as the iconic Bean Boot, was built last year and has been on tour to celebrate LL Bean's 100th anniversary this year.
A highlight is Saturday morning's parade billed as the longest in Maine with more than 100 entries signed up already, Smith said, and she's not counting the fire engines either. The parade, with this year's theme, 30 Years of Blueberries, starts at 9 a.m. from the Expo Center parking lot on Rt. 156/Weld Road and moves to Main Street then heads into the center of downtown.
New to the parade, Smith said, is The Smiling Goat Precision Juggling Corps, which made its worldwide debut at last year's Fourth of July parade in Farmington. Smith said the juggling corps "is a new and very exciting" addition to the festival's parade.
The Blueberry Festival began in 1982 as the Blueberry Bazaar sponsored by the First Congregational Church on Main Street. In 1990, the Wilton Lions asked Smith to help organize the parade that went along with the bazaar.
"I said, 'we've got to do more than just a parade,' and we do," she said. "Much more," she added with a laugh. Now the festival features two days of more than 60 events. Everything is free except the road races' registration and whatever food is consumed from one of the many vendors or organizations sponsoring benefit meals.
Events kick off at 8:30 a.m. Friday, July 3 with the Wilton Library's used book sale at the expo, closely followed by the First Congregational Church's Blueberry Bazaar at 9 a.m., along with the Methodist Church's yard sale, crafters and vendors opening for business in the downtown and at the expo center.
Entertainment and activities are held both at the expo and downtown. Also, on Friday the Thomaston Place Auction Galleries will be conducting appraisals again this year from noon to 4 p .m. in front of Key Bank downtown. An appraisal fee of $10 per item or three for $25 goes to support the Blueberry Festival.
The festival's 10K run, 10K walk, and kids 1 mile races will be held on Friday, Aug. 3.
Registration for the three races will begin at 4 p.m. in the main lodge at Kineowatha Park. The kids 1 mile race will begin at 6 p.m. and will start from the entrance of Kineowatha Park on High Street. The race route will begin on High Street, down Weld Road to Curve Street, and down Main Street to the monument downtown. Main Street will be closed during the kid’s race, from the Weld Road intersection to the monument, for approximately 30 minutes, or the duration of the run, to ensure the safety of the young runners.
The 10K walk will begin at 5:30 p.m. on High Street and the 10K run will begin at 6:30 p.m. on High Street at the entrance of Kineowatha Park. The route for the 10K walk and run will be from High Street to Weld Road, Pond Road to Rt. 2 to Lake Road over the Canal St. bridge to Canal St. behind the Bass-Wilson building.
Trophies will be presented in a number of categories to winners of the 10K run and the Kids 1 mile. T-shirts will be given to all registrants, while they last. Runners are encouraged to pre-register; registration forms may be obtained on-line in the Blueberry Festival program at www.wiltonbbf.com or by contacting Rhonda Irish at 931-7980 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration forms are also available at the Wilton Town Office. Costs for the race are $14 for the 10K run and walk or $12 if pre-registered, and $12 for the kid’s 1 mile or $10 if pre-registered before Aug. 3.
At 7:15 p.m. in the expo, Re-Creation will be performing "American Gold," featuring a salute to veterans, in a free concert.
"They're fantastic," Smith said.
On Saturday, the action begins at 6 a.m. when the Wilton Lions Club hosts its annual pancake breakfast next to Key Bank in downtown. While the entrants for the big parade line up beginning at 7 a.m., a doll carriage and bicycle lineup begins at 8 a.m. at Franklin Savings Bank on Main Street and preceeds the parade. Many events and entertainment is held throughout the day (see schedule below).
At 6:30 p.m. the parade of boats on Wilson Lake will be held and the festival's fireworks at about 8:45 to 9 p.m., from the boat launch on Wilson Lake.
In her 30th year of organizing the Blueberry Festival, Smith decided to do something special - she had blueberries painted onto her toenails. "They're so cute," she said.