Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 25 : Summer 2015 - Page 75

So Little Time by Fort Kent Chamber of Commerce So little time, so much to do! In northern Maine, summertime always feels like such a short season. From the time the ice finally lets out on the lakes, hopefully before Mother’s Day, until the end of August when school starts and when the chill starts to hit the air again, there is a lot of activity to fit into such a short time. but most of all there is the culture and the depth of history steeped into these communities. In late spring, there is a feeling, an anticipation, like a dog at the end of his leash facing an open field knowing he’s going to be let loose to run around for the next hour. Farmers gather at local coffee hangouts talking about the upcoming planting season. Town offices are inundated with phone calls about when the ATV trails will open for the season. Students (and school personnel) count the days until summer vacation. Camp owners and renters google new campfire recipes and homeopathic bug spray concoctions to try. Lawn mowers are prepped to face the fields of dandelions popping up all over, and historical societies start dusting off displays in their seasonal museums. Most communities in this region have some form of sharing their history; either a historical museum, or at least local historians who can provide you with an image of life as lived by their ancestors and share facts normally left out of history books. There is even an Acadian Village in Van Buren offering a glimpse of Acadian daily life. If you’d prefer something more on your own, you can try a self-guided tour. The St. John Valley has been designated a Cultural Byway by the Maine Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byway Program. As part of that designation, there is a series of approximately thirty bilingual (English and French) interpretive panels along Route 1, from Cyr Plantation to Allagash (along with Hamlin and St. Agatha); each explaining an aspect of the Valley / Acadian culture. Maps of this cultural byway are available for viewing at any St. John Valley Town Office or Chamber of Commerce Office. The same is true for the northernmost parts of Northern Maine – the St. John Valley. Locals have been busy preparing and planning, and finally summer is here! Year-round, seasonal and temporary residents are all ready to take full advantage of every last bit of summer before the snow starts to fall again; whether that is a cultural learning experience, outdoor activity or just sitting back relaxing along the lakeshore or at a local lounge- listening to a local music artist. There is a little something for everyone in the Valley. This sense of pride is also evident in the Valley’s annual festivals. There is always an aspect of culture ingrained in the festivities. Over the July 4th weekend in the Upper St. John Valley, for example, the Wesget Sipu will be hosting a PowWow in Fort Kent at Riverside Park. In August, Fort Kent will celebrate the annual Ploye Festival during the International Muskie Fishing Derby on the 7th through the 9th. The Ploye (buckwheat pancake) is an Acadian icon of the St. John Valley. Portage also will host their annual Summer Roundup on the 15th of August. What makes the Valley unique, in comparison to other summer destinations, however, is the cultural pride. Yes, there are amazing, well-groomed ATV trails, hiking trails with views that take your breath away, miles and miles of lakeshores and water for canoeing trips, well kept camps and parks, really good fishing spots, great opportunities for bike riders, friendly people and good music, nationally known landmarks such as America’s First Mile in Fort Kent and Four Corner’s Park in Madawaska, When these cultural activities are paired with all that the outdoors has to offer, it creates a wonderful balance of activities for any person or family; generating options to fit most individual personalities and temperaments. Whatever your summer plans look like, the one thing you can count on is that there will be more things to do and more places to visit in the St. John Valley than you will be able to fit into just one summer. SUMMER 2015 73