If you don’t get out to Portland’s bars and clubs much to check out the vibrant local music scene, don’t worry about it.
You can play catch-up on Sunday afternoon.
The 39th Annual Old Port Festival has been organized as a one-stop-shopping mall of local bands. There will be six stages of music ranging in genre from Irish, folk and country to metal, punk and electronic. More than half of the 40 or so bands playing the festival are local.
And if the reason you don’t hit the clubs is because you have trouble staying up late, never fear: The Old Port Festival is packing these musical acts into one single afternoon. It ends at 5 p.m.
“There’s so much great music here in Portland, it makes sense to have a lot of local music,” said Will Ethridge, events manager for Portland’s Downtown District, the city-funded downtown improvement group that organizes the festival. “This festival is really a celebration of what Portland and the Old Port has to offer, from restaurants and shops to music.”
The festival also includes national acts (though not big names), including country singer and former “American Idol” contestant Bucky Covington, and up-and-coming folk-pop artist Eric Hutchinson, who has toured with Jason Mraz and Kelly Clarkson, among others. (See story on Hutchinson.)
Children and family entertainment will be part of the festival, starting with the annual parade at 11 a.m. on Exchange Street. Led by the giant puppets of Portland’s Shoestring Theater, the parade will include local mascots in costume, dancers and stilt walkers.
There will be lots of kids’ entertainment (free) and kids’ rides (cost). There will be more than 50 food vendors, more than 90 Maine artists and crafters, and at least another 50 non-food vendors selling local products, said Ethridge.
The children’s amusement area on Federal Street will include a train ride, a pirate ship ride and a fun house. There will also be a free kids’ entertainment area in Post Office Park with something happening every hour of the afternoon. (See the attached schedule.)
Most of the live music starts at noon and lasts until the festival’s end. Three stages are organized by local radio stations, while one will be hosted by Dispatch Magazine and a fifth by Bull Feeney’s pub. A sixth stage will feature students of the Maine Academy of Modern Music.
Parking is free at downtown meters on Sunday, but they might be hard to come by. There are several area garages (see map); the Fore Street Garage will be charging a flat fee of $10 for the entire day.
There will also be, for the first time, a free bicycle valet service run by the Maine Bike Coalition. Bikers can look for a sign on Union Street, between Middle and Fore, where coalition members will take their bikes, give them a ticket and park the bikes — just like a car valet service.
Ethridge said the hope is that the bike valet will ease some of the traffic congestion that the festival usually brings.
It’s regularly listed as the largest one-day festival in Maine, normally attracting more than 30,000 people to the Old Port during a five- to six-hour span.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: