The Moxie Festival, including it’s parade, has been canceled this year while some events are going forward. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

In the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Moxie-themed summer events starting July 3 in Lisbon will be a low-key affair.

While the traditional Moxie Festival — including a parade and Moxie chugging competition — is canceled, organizers are holding smaller community events like a fireworks show, 5K road race and a car show. This year, those three events are marketed locally only, instead to of to all of New England.

“All three events will be held as usual — nothing more, nothing less,” said Parks and Recreation Director Mark Stevens. “There are no restrictions as such at the event locations considering all activities will be held outdoors. People can choose in terms of whether to wear a mask or not. However, it’s not mandatory.”

Moxie Festival, held in honor of the unusual-tasting soda — also Maine’s official soft drink — is one of several annual Midcoast events to have been altered, delayed or canceled for a second year in a row due to the pandemic. Bath’s Heritage Days, normally a five-day celebration around July 4, was canceled in favor of smaller-scaled events. Other events, such as the Topsham Fair, are returning this year.

In Lisbon, fireworks will be launched behind Lisbon High School starting at around 9:15 p.m. July 3, Stevens said.

The best viewing location for the fireworks is from Lisbon High School and Philip W. Sugg Middle School Fields, Lisbon’s Midtown shopping plaza, atop Maple and High Streets in Lisbon Falls and along the Durham side of the Androscoggin River, according to the town’s website.

Meanwhile, the registration for the 5K run is in full swing. The event, scheduled to be held July 10, is expected to witness some of the best runners around New England.

Erik McCarthy, who has been participating in the Moxie 5K run since its inaugural in 1996 said, “I signed up for the event as soon as the registrations opened. I am about as excited as ever. It will be different not having the festival with the parade after, but I am looking forward to running with my friends again.”

McCarthy added: “I was 15 when I first took part in the 5K run. Last year I ran with a few friends informally, so this year will be my 26th Moxie 5K run. It also marks my first year as a masters runner.”

According to McCarthy, the 5K run event has become increasingly popular in the past few years. The run draws huge crowds of between 500 and 600 participants. It has also attracted some of the best runners around New England including Olympic champion Joan Benoit Samuelson.

“The 5K event has always brought in some good young runners, and over the years some of the best runners in Maine have won the race,” said McCarthy. “I enjoy the fact that it still feels very much like a welcoming local race. The course has enough turns and hills to be interesting and challenging, with a fast downhill finish. I have lots of good memories of these races, I usually watch the massive parade kid my kids that in a typical year is held after the 5K run.”

Meanwhile, the car show will be held behind the Lisbon High School on the soccer field July 15. As many as 250 vintage cars are expected to be on display, said Stevens

In addition, the town is organizing the first pop-up vendor market at Moxie Plaza from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The market features fresh produce, handmade jewelry, and creative handmade goods.

“Moxie Plaza 2021 is part of a summer event series that will invite visitors to discover local businesses and all that Lisbon has to offer,” said summer events coordinator Lise Tancrede.
“Many small businesses do not have a visible presence other than online. Moxie Plaza gives them the opportunity to showcase their products in a family friendly environment. The town of Lisbon will also promote vendors as well as local business community with weekly advertising campaigns at no cost.”

In the meantime, Stevens is lamenting this year’s cancelation of the wider festival, while looking forward to next year.

“If not for the pandemic, the Moxie festival would have been a grand affair, just like the previous years,” Stevens said. “However, we will start planning early for the next year’s Moxie Festival. We will ensure to conduct the annual parade and bring in more vendors.”

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