A Ferris wheel in the parking lot outside DiMillo’s Restaurant on Portland’s waterfront, public tours of the city’s wharves and fish processing plants, and no rain for three consecutive days.

Could this really have been Portland’s 41st annual Old Port Festival?

It was, and organizers said Sunday the new three-day format on the all-important second weekend in June will return for next year, including the 90-foot Ferris wheel ride called the Casco Bay Eye. (The festival switched to the second weekend a few years ago after research into weather patterns showed it didn’t rain as much as the first weekend.)

Organizers said there were waiting lines for the Casco Bay Eye, which offered views of the harbor and Casco Bay, from the moment it opened at noon Friday until it stopped Sunday evening. Because it was so popular, the ride, which was named after the London Eye on the Thames River, remained open later than scheduled each night.

Steve Hewins, executive director of Portland’s Downtown District, which organized the festival, said the great weather and the timing of the First Friday Art Walk on Friday night made for a spectacular festival. The National Weather Service said weekend temperatures ranged from 75 degrees on Friday to 82 degrees on Sunday, with bright sunshine each day.

“It was a phenomenal success,” Hewins said Sunday night. “Going forward, we will continue to maintain the three-day festival. I think this weekend has proven the city can support a three-day event.”

While Sunday had the look and feel of the traditional Old Port Festival with food vendors and live bands performing on stages throughout the Old Port, the days leading up to Sunday’s celebration were a bit different.

The festival kicked off Friday night with the First Friday Art Walk. Parts of Congress Street were closed to traffic to make room for artists, performers, craftspeople and vendors. Art galleries, museums and shops along the route remained open.

The Circus Conservatory of America staged two aerial performances in Monument Square on Friday night. Hewins estimated that close to 10,000 people filled the streets of Portland on Friday.

On Saturday the festival shifted its focus to Commercial Street and the city’s waterfront, where there were self-guided tours of the wharves and piers, informational displays and open houses at some of the working waterfront’s maritime businesses. It gave festival-goers an opportunity to see parts of the city that are normally off-limits.

Although it was difficult for Hewins to estimate attendance at Saturday’s events because they were so spread out, he said attendance on Sunday easily exceeded the 30,000 figure that has been estimated at previous one-day festivals.

Festivities began at 11 a.m. Sunday with the traditional Old Port Festival Kick Off Parade led by the Shoestring Theater at the top of Exchange Street.

Late Sunday afternoon, the festival was still going strong. Hundreds of people gathered at Post Office Plaza to hear ILAP (Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project) drummers perform.

The streets and sidewalks throughout the Old Port were so crowded it was difficult to find a clear path. At Bull Feeney’s restaurant and pub on Fore Street, there was no room to stand or sit at the bar.

Even stores bustled – a young girl inside Treehouse Toys on Exchange Street held up two stuffed dogs and asked which one was the German shepherd.

“That one is,” said David Lopez, a store clerk.

Owner Kathleen Tutone said the three-day festival seemed to be successful. Not only did sales remain steady but she said it was an opportunity to introduce families to her store’s offerings.

“There have been a lot of families today,” Tutone added.

Jim O’Reilly, a nature photographer from Westbrook, sold photographs at Friday night’s art walk and at Sunday’s festival.

He sold out of a black and white photograph depicting a moose cooling off in Sandy Stream Pond at Baxter State Park. A photo of a live lobster lying on a table also proved popular.

“It has been great, a real success for me businesswise,” O’Reilly said, referring to the extended format.

Portland police reported that the festival crowd was well behaved for the entire weekend.

One man was arrested early Saturday morning in the Old Port and charged with disorderly conduct after he punched his friend, but that was it, according to Lt. Robert Martin.

“With the heat and the large crowds we expected there to be more problems,” Martin said Sunday night.

The city of Portland, which partnered with Portland’s Downtown District, also declared the three-day festival a success.

“There was a really good, positive energy today,” Troy Moon, the environmental programs and open space manager for the city’s Public Services Department, said Sunday while sitting at a recycling booth in Tommy’s Park.

Moon said the city enlisted the help of 20 volunteers, who agreed to prowl the festival and “coach” people on which products and materials were recyclable.

Festival-goers had the choice of dumping their trash in a waste bin or a recycling basket.

“It has been going well. The recycling baskets are filling up pretty fast. It’s just an extra step to get people to recycle,” Moon said.

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