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The 2011 weekend fun guide

Grab your calendar and get going! Here's how to make the most of summer in New England.

By Patricia Harris and David Lyon
June 5, 2011

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THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 10TH

SEA MUSIC FESTIVAL, JUNE 9-12

CT Posing the eternal question “What shall we do with a drunken sailor?” this annual festival showcases shipboard music from the golden age of sail as sung around the world. Featured performers include Mystic Seaport’s Chantey Staff as well as musicians from New England, Canada’s Maritime Provinces, Europe, and Australia.

75 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, Connecticut, 860-572-0711 ext. 4210, http://www.mysticseaport.org

PIRATE RENDEZVOUS, JUNE 11

ME All you need is a big, blousy shirt, a couple of scarves, and a Jack Sparrow soul patch, and you’re on your way to a fine costume for this swashbuckling event in Maine. Families can join professional reenactors to help defend the towns against a mock pirate attack and then compete in a costume contest and a daylong treasure hunt for a chest filled with enough goodies for everyone.

Damariscotta and Newcastle, Maine, 207-380-9912, http://www.piraterendezvous.com

HARWINTON ANTIQUES & DESIGN WEEKEND, JUNE 11-12

CT With its rolling landscape and stately historic homes, the Litchfield Hills constitute one of the most genteel corners of New England. See for yourself at this antiques and art show featuring more than 200 vendors offering everything from Windsor chairs and weather vanes to seascape oil paintings.

Harwinton Fairgrounds, 80 Locust Road, Harwinton, Connecticut, 317-598-0012, http://www.farmingtonantiquesweekend.com

THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 17TH

FIELDS OF LUPINE FESTIVAL, JUNE 3-19

NH Spiky stalks of pink, blue, and purple lupine are among the surest signals of the arrival of summer in northern New England. Festival organizers provide a map to some of the best fields and encourage visitors to snap entries for the annual photo contest (the winning photo appears on the cover of next year’s Fields of Lupine Festival tour book). Special events are scheduled throughout the celebration, including the annual Wildflower Festival at The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem on June 4, and a June 18-19 craft market featuring local artisans in Franconia.

Franconia Notch region, New Hampshire, 603-823-5661, http://www.franconianotch.org

PROVINCETOWN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, JUNE 15-19

MA Let screenings of more than 50 American and international films lure you from the beach into a darkened theater. Make it a long weekend to catch the Thursday night double feature at the Wellfleet Drive-In of Aliens (on its 25th anniversary), followed by the 2010 indie film Troll Hunter. This year’s recipient of the Filmmaker on the Edge Award, Darren Aronofsky (director of The Wrestler and Black Swan), will chat with writer/director John Waters at 6 p.m. Saturday at Town Hall. (Tickets cost $25; call 866-811-4111.)

Various venues, Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet, 508-487-3456, http://www.ptownfilmfest.org

BLOCK ISLAND 350th ANNIVERSARY EVENTS, JUNE 17-19

RI You shouldn’t need an excuse to enjoy the bluffs, trails, and beaches of Block Island, but if you do, this year marks the 350th anniversary of the island’s founding. The weekend includes tours of the Coast Guard cutter Ridley, a concert by the 88th Army Band, and the rededication of Settlers Rock on Saturday. Sunday marks the beginning of Block Island Race Week XXIV, a premier summer sailing event.

Various locations, Block Island, Rhode Island, http://www.blockisland350.com

THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 24TH

WILCO’S SOLID SOUND FESTIVAL, JUNE 24-26

MA If you’re fan of Wilco and the alt-roots rock scene, you’ll want to reserve a tent site near the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art grounds for the band’s annual festival. Wilco, which conceived and curates the show, headlines Friday and Saturday, but grizzled rock legend Levon Helm will pop over from his Woodstock Midnight Ramble with his band, Sarah Lee Guthrie will be there with lilting-voiced hubby Johnny Irion, and guitar hero Thurston Moore will rage on his vintage Fenders.

87 Marshall Street, North Adams, 413-662-2111, http://www.massmoca.org

VERMONT QUILT FESTIVAL, JUNE 24-26

VT Marking its 35th anniversary, the festival will exhibit quilts spanning two centuries and invites attendees to bring their own antique quilts for evaluation by an appraisal team. Work by contemporary quilters from all over North America will also be on display. Gallery talks, classes, a contest for new work, and a marketplace of about 80 vendors selling everything from silver thimbles to sewing machines round out the festival. Needle-impaired? Take a chance in the quilt raffle.

Champlain Valley Exposition, 105 Pearl Street, Essex Junction, Vermont, 802-872-0034, http://www.vqf.org

CLIMB TO THE CLOUDS, JUNE 22-26

NH At the first automobile race up Mount Washington in 1904, the winner reached the summit in 24 minutes, 37.6 seconds. (The current record of 6 minutes, 41.99 seconds was set in 1998.) Last run in 2001, the race returns this year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the 7.6-mile Mount Washington Auto Road. Spectators can cheer on the 75 drivers in souped-up rally cars who will try to set a new record in what remains one of the world’s most challenging hill-climb events. They can watch practice runs on Friday and Saturday, then the big event on Sunday.

Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, 802-861-2277, http://www.climbtotheclouds.com

THE WEEKEND OF JULY 1ST

BERKSHIRES ARTS FESTIVAL, JULY 2-4

MA Musicians, magicians, and fire dancers will entertain browsers at this juried arts show held at Ski Butternut. Two hundred artists and artisans from around the country bring their best work – from clay sculptures to deerskin jackets – to tempt discriminating connoisseurs of the Berkshires’ summer arts scene. Clay workshops for children and demonstrations by participants illuminate the artistic process.

380 State Road, Great Barrington, 800-834-9437, http://www.berkshiresarts-festival.com

FABULOUS ’50s, SENSATIONAL ’60s CAR MEET & ANTIQUE AEROPLANE SHOW, JULY 2-3

ME Visitors who arrive in a pre-1991 vehicle enjoy free admission and can even exhibit their vintage Corolla or Ford Fairlane 500 on the tarmac alongside about 400 classic cars from the 1950s and 1960s. If you can lift your eyes from the tail fins and hood ornaments of the most glamorous era of automotive design, early biplanes and pioneer aircraft from the Owls Head Transportation Museum’s collection will be flying all day both days, and rides will be available.

117 Museum Street, Owls Head, Maine, 207-594-4418, http://www.ohtm.org

THE WEEKEND OF JULY 8TH

HILLSBOROUGH BALLOON FESTIVAL & FAIR, JULY 7-10

NH Tethered and untethered balloon rides are the headline activities, but this civic gathering draws 30,000 people for the art fair, music performances, firefighters’ muster, classic car show, and several truck and tractor pulls. The midway is full of thrill rides and games and all the fair food you can eat.

Grimes Field, Preston Street, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, 603-464-0377, http://www.balloonfestival.org

ROCKPORT COASTAL GARDENS TOUR, JULY 8-9

MA The 12 private gardens on this year’s tour range from sweet and charming to spectacular. Many have ocean views, including one gorgeous spot where lunch will be available at an additional fee. Bring your camera to record good ideas for water gardens, low-maintenance grasses, or season-long blooms.

Chamber of Commerce information booth, Upper Main Street, Rockport, 978-546-6861, http://www.rockportgardenclub.org

THE WEEKEND OF JULY 15TH

MAINE POTATO BLOSSOM FESTIVAL, JULY 9-17

ME Far northern Maine’s summer “spudtacular,” the Potato Blossom Festival, dates to 1937. Although it takes place over nine days, the climax comes on the final weekend with the Miss Potato Blossom Queen pageant, fireworks over the Aroostook River, and mashed potato wrestling. The modified triathlon is within reach of some weekend warriors: a 5-mile road race and a 6.5-mile downstream canoe or kayak paddle on Saturday and a 25-mile bike race on Sunday.

Various locations, Fort Fairfield, Maine, 207-472-3802, http://www.potatoblossom.org

BLACK SHIPS FESTIVAL, JULY 14-17

RI This Newport-based four-day annual immersion in Japanese culture celebrates the 1854 treaty that allowed foreign ships, referred to as kurofune, or black ships, into Japanese ports after 200 years of isolationism. Sample sushi and sake while sailing aboard a 101-foot schooner, or attend the arts and crafts festival with demonstrations of such traditional Japanese arts as paper folding and calligraphy. The festival culminates with a Taiko drum ensemble concert. Proceeds this year will go to tsunami relief.

Various locations, Newport, Rhode Island, 401-846-2720, http://www.blackshipsfestival.com

WEEKEND OF JULY 22D

GATHERING OF THE VIBES MUSIC FESTIVAL, JULY 21-24

CT Bridgeport’s Seaside Park was the legacy of consummate showman P.T. Barnum, making it a fitting venue for the biggest, most raucous, and conceivably grooviest of New England’s summer rock festivals. Who’s playing at this gathering of Deadhead spirit? Jane’s Addiction, Elvis Costello, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, and Toots and the Maytals. Wavy Gravy will emcee. Camping is de rigueur. Even Jerry would approve.

Seaside Park, Bridgeport, Connecticut, 203-908-3030, http://www.gatheringofthevibes.com

VERMONT CHEESEMAKERS FESTIVAL, JULY 24

VT Vermont claims more artisan cheesemakers per capita than any other state, and you can taste and purchase more than 100 cheeses from about 40 purveyors when they gather at the sprawling Shelburne Farms estate on the shores of Lake Champlain. To round out a perfect picnic spread, Vermont-made beer, bread, chocolate, and other goodies will also be available. If you want to make a weekend of it, many of the creameries will be open for tours on July 23.

1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne, Vermont, 800-884-6287, http://www.vtcheesefest.com

ABBADIA MARE FESTIVAL, JULY 23-24

MAJesters and fire-eaters and battling knights, oh my! A happy jumble of medieval and Renaissance music and entertainment takes over the grounds of the oceanfront castle in Gloucester built by John Hays Hammond in the 1920s, which he then filled with old art and artifacts. In addition to the performers and dozens of vendors of stained glass, jewelry, fanciful artwork, leather goods, and period clothing, catch the human chess match.

80 Hesperus Avenue (park at Stage Fort Park), Gloucester, 978-207-1127, http://www.abbadiamarefestival.com

THE WEEKEND OF JULY 29TH

BOOKSTOCK, JULY 29-31

VT Vermont-based mystery writer Archer Mayor is one of more than 20 authors who will speak, read, and lead workshops at this literary extravaganza. The bulk of activities takes place on Saturday, including music performances, an exhibit of book art, displays by publishers, and a secondhand book sale where you can stock up on potboilers for the lazy days of August.

Downtown Woodstock, Vermont, 802-457-9149, http://www.bookstockvt.org

BLESSING OF THE FLEET, JULY 29-30

RI Fisherfolk take the Blessing of the Fleet seriously, and the whole community comes out for the fun. This 40th annual Rhode Island event kicks off Friday with a 10-mile road race, live bands, and prodigious quantities of seafood and beer. At noon on Saturday, more than 40 highly decorated vessels gather in Galilee harbor for the blessing. Festive music keeps pumping, and the seafood keeps coming.

Port of Galilee and town of Narragansett, Rhode Island, 401-783-7121, narragansettri.com/lions

THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 5TH

PEMI VALLEY BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL, AUGUST 4-7

NH The Appalachian Mountains stretch right into New England, and so does the music born in the range’s southern hills. So let the banjos ring and hair-raising harmonies take wing for this 19th annual festival. When one of the bands strikes up the classic tune “In the Pines,” they could almost be singing of the festival campground high in the White Mountains. Sunday includes a big gospel jam.

Branch Brook Campground, 97 Branch Brook Drive, Campton, New Hampshire, 603-726-3471, http://www.pemivalleybluegrass.com

SALEM MARITIME FESTIVAL, AUGUST 5-6

MA Contemporary Celtic rock band Coyote Run launches this Salem festival with a rousing Friday night concert, followed by an all-day lineup Saturday. The focus, though, is on the water, with kayak programs, free harbor cruises, and demonstrations of maritime crafts. Children can take a “Muck Walk” at low tide, operate radio-controlled ship models, or board the schooner Friendship and help load cargo.

160 Derby Street, Salem, 978-740-1650, http://www.nps.gov/sama/planyourvisit/maritimefestival.htm

REDCOATS & REBELS, AUGUST 6-7

MA With its bucolic main street and working farm, Old Sturbridge Village seems a peaceful place. But this weekend, the living history museum hosts New England’s largest military reenactment, an annual event with more than 800 people portraying both sides in the American Revolution. Expect marching, drilling, cannon fire, a daily battle in the fields below the farm, and an evening encampment on Saturday where visitors can talk with soldiers around the campfires. If all goes well, peace will be restored until next year.

1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, 800-733-1830, http://www.osv.org

THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 12

THE KAHBANG MUSIC, ART & FILM FESTIVAL, AUGUST 5-13

ME No festival in New England is so committed to uncovering The Next Big Thing in music, art, and film as KahBang. The music lineup features up-and-coming bands along with headliners My Morning Jacket and Lupe Fiasco, and some of the films being screened will make their worldwide debut at the indie festival. Go, so you can say you knew ’em when.

Various locations, Bangor, Maine, 207-461-4435, http://www.kahbang.com

CURIOUS GEORGE COTTAGE FAMILY FESTIVAL, AUGUST 13-14

NH Thanks to the PBS animated series, and nostalgic parents raised on the classics by Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey, new generations of preschoolers keep falling in love with the irrepressible monkey. Expect monkey grunts of delight when the little ones eat a banana pancake breakfast with George or join him in story time or craft activities. Nature walks, planetarium and “mad science” shows, rocket launches, and a petting zoo will engage the older kids.

Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, 603-236-3308, http://www.thereycenter.org

THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 19TH

WORCESTER LATIN AMERICAN FESTIVAL, AUGUST 20

MA Downtown Worcester shimmies to a Latin beat from noon to 9 p.m. as 10,000 participants crowd around City Hall to celebrate Puerto Rican, Dominican, and all manner of Latin-American cultures with ethnic foods, a bustling beer garden, free concerts, and a children’s tent with face painting and arts and crafts.

Worcester Common at City Hall, 508-798-1900, http://www.worcesterlatinfestival.com

MACHIAS WILD BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL, AUGUST 19-21

ME Intensely flavored wild Maine blueberries are well worth celebrating, and this community festival pulls out all the stops, with blueberry farm tours, pie-eating and cooking contests, a blueberry pancake breakfast, a blueberry dessert bar, a fish fry, a craft fair, kids’ activities, and 1- and 5-mile races. The showstopper, however, is the annual musical – this year titled Blueberry Fields Forever.

Various locations, Machias, Maine, 207-255-6665, http://www.machiasblueberry.com

HERRMANNS’ ROYAL LIPIZZAN STALLIONS, AUGUST 19-21

CT The famed white Lipizzan stallions of Austria perform at several Historic New England properties this summer, including on the grounds of the bright pink Gothic Revival Roseland Cottage in Connecticut. Bred starting in the 16th century for the Habsburg royal family, these modern show horses perform an astounding ballet of leaps and plunges that were originally used to intimidate foot soldiers during battle. Even if you can’t attend a show, you’ll be able to see the horses on the site starting Tuesday.

Roseland Cottage, 556 Route 169, Woodstock, Connecticut, 860-928-4074, http://www.historicnewengland.org

THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 26TH

CHAMPLAIN VALLEY FAIR, AUGUST 27-SEPTEMBER 5

VT How could you go wrong with an end-of-summer fair in Vermont that has free shows by acrobats and jugglers, clowns and magicians, and even the McKenzie Racing Pigs? Admission to the concerts costs extra, but two vintage acts – Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Doobie Brothers – headline opening night. The younger set will clamor to see the fresh-faced heartthrobs of Big Time Rush, the boy band from the Nickelodeon show of the same name.

Champlain Valley Exposition, 105 Pearl Street, Essex Junction, Vermont, 802-878-5545, http://www.cvexpo.org

RED FIRE FARM TOMATO FESTIVAL, AUGUST 27

MA No matter how good or bad the growing season, it’s safe to plan on a momentary glut of ripe tomatoes in late August. Red Fire Farm in Granby grows 150 varieties, and about 100 will be available for sampling at the festival, which kicks off with the Tomato Trot 5K race through fields and meadows. Guest chefs demonstrate recipes, musicians make your toes tap, and kids enjoy throwing overripe tomatoes at targets.

7 Carver Street, Granby, 413-467-7645, http://www.redfirefarm.com

REMEMBERING CHARLES D. CAHOON; A 150th RETROSPECTIVE, JUNE 26-OCTOBER 8

MA Like many artists, Charles D. Cahoon was captivated by the clear light of Cape Cod, but growing up in Harwich also made him a keen observer of rural life. This summer-long exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Cape’s first “master painter.” Visit on his August 27 birthday for cake and a walking tour to some of Cahoon’s favorite Harwich spots.

Brooks Academy Museum, 80 Parallel Street, Harwich, 508-432-8089, http://www.charlesdcahoon.org

THE WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 2D

TANGLEWOOD JAZZ FESTIVAL, SEPTEMBER 2-4

MA Celebrated percussionist Max Roach used to refer to jazz as America’s classical music, so this annual Labor Day weekend festival in the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra makes a lot of sense. Individual events are ticketed, but a daily lawn pass provides admission to all performances on that day – including seating for such evening headliners as jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves.

297 West Street, Lenox, 888-266-1200, http://www.bso.org

NEW ENGLAND ELVIS FESTIVAL, SEPTEMBER 2-4

NH Hip-twitching young Elvis? Jumpsuit-wearing Vegas Elvis? You’re bound to find the Elvis of your fancy among the 20 tribute artists competing for prizes at this rocking event in New Hampshire. (The winner will represent New England at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest in Memphis in August 2012.) Other highlights include an Elvis collectibles bazaar and a free gospel music contest on Sunday morning. You might need a little something for your soul following Saturday night’s after-hours Rock-a-Hula costume party.

Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm Street, Manchester, New Hampshire, 518-681-7452, http://www.newenglandelvisfestival.com

THE WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 9TH

CAPRICCIO: A CELEBRATION OF THE ARTS, SEPTEMBER 5-17

ME Nearly two weeks of concerts, poetry readings, films, and exhibitions mark the 31st anniversary of Ogunquit’s 1980 secession from Wells, Maine. Don’t miss the sight of 400 kites rising in unison above Ogunquit Beach at noon on September 10 at the Festival of Kites. Youngsters should arrive by 10 a.m. to get a free kite to decorate.

Various locations, Ogunquit, Maine, 207-646-7055, http://www.ogunquitperformingarts.org

HAMPTON BEACH SEAFOOD FESTIVAL, SEPTEMBER 9-11

NH Even if it’s too cold to swim, you can spend all day sampling seafood dishes from about 50 seacoast restaurants, watching cooking demonstrations, and listening to jazz, rock, and oldies bands. On Saturday, you can cheer contestants in the lobster roll eating contest and send the season off in style with the beach’s last fireworks display of summer.

Ocean Boulevard, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, 603-926-8718, http://www.hamptonbeachseafoodfestival.com

Patricia Harris and David Lyon are based in Cambridge, where they publish HungryTravelers.com. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.