With attractions aimed at pleasing everyone and tasty dining, too, the festival runs May 13 and 14.

Lobster and smoked alewives, children’s’ activities, demonstrations of alewife harvesting and an appearance by wardens from the television show “North Woods Law” are among the attractions May 13 and 14 at the annual Alewife Festival in Benton.

This is the festival’s fifth year, and it promises to be an exciting event, according to Benton Selectwoman Melissa Patterson.

“It’s a nice time,” she said. “I think we try hard to hit all ages. We try to attract and give a little bit to each person.”

The lobster and alewife dinner, to be held at 5:30 p.m. on May 13 at the Benton Grange Hall, is a way to recognize the small fish’s annual spring run from the Gulf of Maine upstream to spawn in inland lakes. Benton hosts the largest run in the state and one of the largest on the East Coast, estimated at nearly 3 million fish.

The dinner also is a way to introduce people to alewives, which 250 years ago were a fixture at tables of those living next to waterways. Mainers salted and smoked the fish.


Dammed rivers and pollution hurt the alewife fishery, and the population had diminished by the late 1950s. With dam removals in Winslow and Augusta a few years ago, the fish have rebounded.

Harvesting of alewives in May brings in about $17,000 or $18,000 a year to the town, according to Patterson.

Those wanting to buy tickets to the May 13 dinner may do so at the Town Office or by calling the office at 453-7191. Tickets cost $15 a person and the dinner includes lobster, smoked alewives, potato, corn, rolls, dessert and a drink.

The big festival Saturday, May 14, starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 4. The festival is free and open to the public.

Most activities take place at the Benton Fun Park, next to the Town Office on Neck Road. Besides wardens from “North Woods Law,” there will be a presentation by Wind Over Wings, a nonprofit organization from Freedom that cares for injured birds; a firetruck from Fairfield with firefighters handing out gifts to children; a bounce house; face painting; miniature golf; batting cages and popcorn.

Larry the Bulldog from Lawrence High School will meet and greet kids, as will the character Elsa, from the movie “Frozen,” Patterson said.

Alewife harvesting tours will be available on the nearby dam over the Sebasticook River, with a shuttle that will take people from the park to the dam and back, she said.

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

[email protected];

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