PORTLAND – The Portland Music and Arts Festival drew hundreds of people downtown Saturday to browse the creations of artists and to hear music ranging from local high school talent to a nationally recognized band.

Organizers hope the event will become an annual tradition in the city’s arts district. It was held over a 12-hour period in a parking lot off Free Street that sits between the buildings of the event’s two lead sponsors: MaineHealth and the Dogfish Bar and Grille.

Proceeds from the festival benefit the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, an initiative of MaineHealth.

“It has been fantastic. We’ve already raised over $40,000 through sponsorships,” said Ted Arcand, owner of the Dogfish Company. “Our goal is to raise $50,000 and I think we are going to get there.”

The concept for the festival came into focus after MaineHealth purchased the building and parking lot on Free Street a few years ago, Arcand said. The Dogfish Company wanted to put on some type of event for the arts district, and a partnership with MaineHealth was formed.

Arcand was pleased with the amount of foot traffic at the event Saturday afternoon, and he was thrilled that about 50 people gave up a Saturday in August to work as festival volunteers.

“The energy has been great. It has really been a lot more people than we expected, especially for this being our first year,” Arcand said.

Kathryn Carr of Go Carr Go Art Studio was one of more than a dozen vendors at the event. Carr lives in Pittsburgh but has friends in Maine and was planning a vacation here this week. She heard about the festival online and set up a tent next to her friend, Robin Shott of Pemaquid Pottery in Bremen.

“Sales are going really well,” Carr said. “I didn’t know what to think because this was billed as both music and arts. I thought I’d give it a shot, knowing that if anything, we’d get to listen to some good music and it is a good cause.”

The Maine Children’s Cancer Program participates in clinical research trials that give young patients access to the most advanced therapies.

According to the program’s website, treatment provided through clinical trials has increased the cure rate for childhood cancer to nearly 80 percent.

That rate was less than 10 percent in the 1950s.

Graham Warren of Portland said he came to the festival in part because his 10-year-old cousin is a cancer survivor.

“We’ve come a long way and programs like this give kids hope where there used to be none,” Warren said. “I’ve seen what families go through when their child is in a battle with cancer. Any help that we can provide is important.”

Performers at the festival were students and faculty from the Maine Academy of Modern Music, the Jason Spooner Trio, Pete Miller, Grant Street Orchestra, Samuel James and Carbon Leaf.

Staff writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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