FARMINGTON – The Fiddlehead Festival returned this weekend after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 500 people gathered on the University of Maine Farmington campus for the event, marking the best attendance in the festival’s nine-year history.
“I’m so glad that folks from near and far seemed to show up today, and come to enjoy a spectacular festival. I’m so happy it all came together,” Campus Sustainability Coordinator Mark Pires said.
This was Pires’ first year leading the organizing team, but he said he’s looking forward to many more.
“If it weren’t for all the help I got maybe my smile wouldn’t be as broad as it is right now,” he said.
In 2019 the festival shifted to the south side of campus- setting up in the courtyard between Roberts Learning Center and the Olsen Student Center. This year, with nearly twice the number of vendors, organizers took advantage of the nearby High Street parking lot to spread out even more.
What started out as an effort to bring awareness to local food insecurity issues quickly evolved into what organizers described as a more positive outlook of the situation. Rather than focus on what the region lacks, the small group of organizers decided to draw attention to all that the region has to offer- both in the wild and on the farm.
The festival aimed to promote sustainable living practices by bringing in more than 30 vendors that cover a range of topics- from handmade crafts such as basket weaving to raising animals and foraging for wild mushrooms. The theme of the springtime “emerging coils of the immature ostrich fern,” is brought into the spotlight with guided tours on sustainable harvesting practices, special food truck menus that include the delicacy, and fiddlehead cooking demonstrations.