THE BEST BEARD CONTEST returns as par t of the fourth annual Ice and Smelt Festival in Bowdoinham.

THE BEST BEARD CONTEST returns as par t of the fourth annual Ice and Smelt Festival in Bowdoinham.


The fourth annual Ice and Smelt Festival kicks off in Bowdoinham on Friday with the sounds of Mardi Gras and an art gallery opening followed by several events Saturday to celebrate midwinter.

The festival began in 2012 to help kick off the town’s 250th anniversary, bringing back the tradition of the best beard contest which is again a highlight on Saturday. New this year will be a karaoke contest featuring songs from the animated film “Frozen,” sponsored by the Bowdoinham Public Library.

On Friday, Jazz Alchemy will perform from 6-9 p.m. while the Merrymeeting Arts Center hosts “Winter Darkness/Winter Light” at 9 Main St. Local artists will display their interpretations of the visual delights of winter and the mysteries of Groundhog Day, Mardi Gras, the myth of Persephone and the Lunar New Year. Folks are invited to bring their favorite food or beverage to share and to dress in a casual or creative way.

Saturday’s events, from 1-5 p.m. at the MAC Center, will include outdoor events; an open house at the Pottery Studio with demonstrations and classes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; children’s games and art projects from noon to 4 p.m.; adult board games, cribbage and cards from 1-4 p.m.; and the “Frozen” karaoke contest from 11 a.m. to noon.

There will be community music making at 2 p.m. with singer/songwriter Martin Swinger, and the Best Beard Contest hosted by the Maine Facial Hair Club starts at 4 p.m. followed by a soup and bread supper from 5-6 p.m., co-sponsored by the Bowdoinham Food Pantry. The supper menu includes homemade soup, bread, and macaroni and cheese for the children. The $5 entry fee will benefit the local food pantry and MAC. There will also be bowls handcrafted by local potters available for $15 if folks wish to take their bowls home.

The Winter Darkness/Winter Light exhibit will be open all day on Feb. 6 and will continue through March 26 on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information visit

The Ice and Smelt Festival is sponsored by MAC with support from the town of Bowdoinham.

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