Photo Courtesy of Robin Farrin
Photo Courtesy of Robin Farrin
Photo Courtesy of Edward French, The Quoddy Tides
Life in Eastport is as busy or as quiet as you make it. Summers are packed with visiting guests, tourism visitors, arts and cultural workshops and events, festivals and more.
Residents and visitors alike get out on the bay every summer to see the whales, porpoises, eagles and seals. Festivals include the Eastport 4th of July Homecoming Week when the island city can swell to over 10,000 happy celebrants. The children’s penny scramble, carriage and bicycle parade, pie-eating contest, pet contest, codfish race, firemen’s muster and more appeal to all ages, with plenty of concession stands selling the glorious fair foods we try not to eat the rest of the year.
The Pirate Festival is another raucous occasion, with cannons firing, and scallywags and pirates dressed to the hilt parading around downtown.
Like the 4th, events run the gamut, but with plenty for kids and adults, including the bed races, a top favorite of years past, it can be loud and messy and a whole lot of fun. Not everyone loves it. Sometimes a family or two will be found taking the week off to go camping in a nearby park. But for most, it’s a time to let loose, make some noise, and give over the city to its visitors.
The Salmon Festival is a quieter affair, with a salmon dinner that feeds over 600, architectural walking tours, and sometimes other tours featuring the cemetery or special trees of the city. Vendors feature arts and crafts, with the special fiber arts show a new favorite. The Eastport Arts Center and Eastport Gallery sponsor the Paint Eastport Day during the Salmon Festival, which draws painters from all over to participate in the “plein air” end-of-day auction. Many an island home is decorated with fantastic artworks bought for a song from artists and amateurs who donate part of the proceeds to the nonprofit sponsor. The new Bay Day festival promises another quieter affair with puppet show, music and more in the works for the future.
The winter is the city’s quiet time, although for many it can be almost as busy, with plenty of offerings of workshops and events provided by the area’s cultural nonprofits. It’s also a time when many of the city and area’s nonprofit organizations and civic groups are busy planning for the summer. If you enjoy volunteering or have wanted to add it to your list of personal growth areas, there are plenty of opportunities, from the volunteer fire department, hospice care, nursing home auxiliary and city boards and committees to the garden club, the historical society and much more. In addition, there are plenty of fundraising events to keep you busy year-round. It might be a winter fun day in nearby Perry to benefit the nonprofit Stronghearts, or a huge dinner potluck and raffle for a family and community member in need. Acclimate yourself with all that’s happening by reading the local newspaper, The Quoddy Tides, to get a feel for what might appeal to you.
You might take a whale-watch excursion or a kayak paddle on the bay, or a canoe trip or hike in the region’s many state parks, lakes, rivers and land trust lands, or a trip down winding back roads.
Eastport, while a city, is also a perfect spot to launch an excursion to neighboring Canada or our many natural resource-based attractions. There are ATV and snowmobile trails as well as lakes for ice-skating and ice-fishing, and plenty of places to take up cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Eastport itself has Shackford Head State Park right in its midst as well as two properties owned by Maine Coast Heritage Trust that have trails: Matthew’s Island, accessible by foot during the two hours before and after low-tide, and Treat’s Island, which can be reached by boat.
Across the border in New Brunswick, St. Stephen has the Ganong chocolate museum and factory for all things chocolate, and further along the coast is the historic resort town of St. Andrews, boasting many shops, restaurants, and beautiful homes, with the Algonquin resort right next to the stunning Kingsbrae Gardens. Campobello Island, across the bridge from the Town of Lubec, is home to the Campobello Roosevelt International Park where President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor had a summer home for many years. The park includes extensive walking trails and access to shorefront beaches, inlets and outcroppings. Campobello hosts the annual summer Fog Fest, which brings thousands to listen to a wide range of musicians.
Lubec is a picturesque neighbor community, with a brewery and other attractions. It’s an easy boat ride across the bay from Eastport, or a 45-minute drive that many make, as friends are easily made across the bay. It is also home to one of the region’s health care facilities, the Regional Medical Center of Lubec, joining the Down East Community Hospital in Machias, the Calais Regional Hospital in Calais and the Eastport Health Care Center in Eastport to provide health services to the region’s residents and visitors. They are all served by Downeast EMS ambulance service, with a base located right in Eastport.