If the sluggish economy has kept you from traveling the past few years, I know a way you can take a quick trip to the Mediterranean. Think southern Spain and northern Africa.

Think Andalusia and Gibraltar.

Think Ingrid Bergman saying a tear-filled goodbye to Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca — only in living color, and without the fog.

Pop the Kennebunks, one of the biggest annual parties at the Kennebunkport Festival, will be flamenco-inspired this year. There will be food and wine, of course, but also live music and champion salsa dancers, all under a 10,000-square-foot tent.

“The inspiration for the decor and the food and the scene was really the passion, the color and the flair of flamenco,” said Elizabeth Mitchell Hunt, director of events and sponsorships at Maine and Maine Home+Design magazines, the producers of the festival.

Flamenco-inspired does not, alas, mean there will be flamenco dancers. But salsa sounds fun too.

The 2013 Kennebunkport Festival, June 4-9, has a lot to offer foodies this year, including a kicked-up grand tasting event that includes more chefs than ever before in a setting that evokes the south of France.

There are cocktail parties, three nights’ worth of “Art of Dining” dinners in private homes, a beer-centric music fest for families and beer geeks, and an over-the-top dinner at the White Barn Inn. The grand finale will be held at David’s KPT, the new Kennebunkport restaurant from Portland chef David Turin.

As of this writing, there are still tickets left for many of the events, except for some of the smaller gatherings such as The Cellardoor Winery dinner featuring Boston chef Barbara Lynch, which sold out in seconds. Similarly, the Maine Magazine dinner with legendary Portland chef Sam Hayward has been sold out for a while now.

And last I checked, the Art of Dining dinners featuring other amazing Maine chefs were sold out for Wednesday and Friday, and the Tuesday dinners were close to being sold out. (These tickets go quickly, because they are intimate gatherings for a dozen or so people. Last year, the dinners raised more than $20,000 for Share Our Strength, an organization that fights childhood hunger.)

So, how to choose from the menu of remaining events?

Pop the Kennebunks will be the go-to for folks who really want to party. Sure, there will be plenty of food and wine — Kitchen Chicks is catering the event — but the venue will be transformed into a nightclub on the Mediterranean Sea, awash in rich reds and the spirit of Seville.

It’s the kind of bash Jay Gatsby might have thrown, had he lived in Spain in the 1920s.

“That kind of party doesn’t usually happen in Maine,” Hunt said. “It’s not an experience you get every day here.”

Pop the Kennebunks will be held at a boatyard on the Kennebunk River in the lower village, Kennebunk. The location change is part of the organizers’ effort to centralize everything in downtown Kennebunkport and the lower village this year, making it easier for people to walk to different events.

The grand tasting will be held under the same tent as Pop the Kennebunks on June 8. The Mediterranean nightclub will become the south of France, with beautiful umbrellas and flowers to turn it into a summer-by-the-sea food and wine experience.

If you’re all about the food (and wine), this is your best bet. The tasting has been transformed this year into a “Grand Tapas Party” featuring 28 chefs and 26 wineries — more than they’ve ever had — where you can try 28 menu tastings, each paired with wine, for just $55.

Instead of a bunch of tables and plates thrown together randomly, there’s been some thought put into the pairings and how the event will be organized.

“This is really a foodie fantasy experience,” Hunt said. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

All of the Saturday events are accessible financially, and work for families. The Grand Tapas is being held at almost the same time as the Brews & Tunes party, which features live music, food and a beer garden. Send mom for some pampering at the Grand Tapas party while dad takes the kids to the concert.

“You can do that this year, because you can walk to both,” Hunt said. “We will have a trolley, but you can walk. They’re just over the bridge from each other.”

If you want to treat yourself and splurge a little, check out the “Intimate Evening at The White Barn Inn” on Tuesday for $250 per ticket. Grand Relais & Chateaux chef Jonathan Cartwright will be preparing a decadent four-course meal for guests, sponsored by Pommery Champagne.

“If you want an amazing, special, unique, never-going-to-happen-again experience, I would go to the White Barn Inn dinner,” Hunt said.

Fans of chef David Turin who are curious about his new Kennebunkport restaurant, David’s KPT at The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, can check it out during the Grand Finale gala the evening of June 8.

For more information about each event or to purchase tickets, go to: kennebunkportfestival.com/events.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MeredithGoad


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