The band Chair performs last year at the first Resurgam Festival, held at Thompson’s Point. Organizers want to move it downtown this year. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Organizers of the Resurgam Festival, held for the first time last year at Thompson’s Point, want to follow in the footsteps of Carnaval Maine by relocating the event to Portland’s waterfront this year.

The Maine Academy of Modern Music is partnering with the city to bring the one-day music festival to Ocean Gateway and surrounding areas on June 11. City councilors will be asked to formally approve the move at Monday’s meeting.

The proposed venue shift comes just a week after Carnaval Maine held its annual music and food festival in the expansive parking lot of DiMillo’s restaurant on Commercial Street for the first time.

“We’ve been thinking about it over the winter, and after we learned Thompson’s Point might go under some construction, we thought it might be a good time to bring it downtown,” said Jeff Shaw, founder and executive director of the music academy, known as MAMM. “We know it can work in that location.”

As Portland continues to grow and attract visitors from Maine and beyond, questions about how to manage potentially large crowds and gatherings – and where they should and shouldn’t be – are likely to continue.

Last year, a major concert promoter approached the city about hosting a two-day music festival at Payson Park, which borders Back Cove and some residential areas. That idea was met with concerns, which prompted C3 Presents, a division of concert giant Live Nation, to postpone the festival until 2024.


Now, local arts organization Portland Ovations is proposing – also to the City Council on Monday – to bring New England-based touring circus Circus Smirkus to Payson Park on Aug. 6 and 7, but the much smaller event is not likely to face as much pushback from the neighborhood.

“The (proposed musical festival) in Payson Park, put on by folks who are not from here, I understand the hesitation,” said Shaw, of MAMM. “We’re local. We’re doing this because we love Portland.”

MAMM, which serves hundreds of students statewide with workshops, classes and events, launched the Resurgam Festival last year in part to fill the void left when the Old Port Festival ended its nearly 50-year run in 2019. The academy had sponsored a stage at the Old Port Festival for years.

The name Resurgam comes from the Portland city motto, adopted in 1832, which means “I shall rise again” in Latin. The city has risen from the ashes, literally, more than once – after being bombarded by the British Navy in 1775 and after a devastating fire in 1866.

Last year’s inaugural event at Thompson’s Point, which featured Maine singer-songwriter King Kyote and Dave Gutter of Rustic Overtones, among others, drew about 5,000 people, Shaw said, and he hopes to build on that this year.

“On a sunny day, the Old Port Festival would get 50,000 or more,” he said. “It would be great to have that, obviously, but anything that improves upon last year is great.”


The new location would be at Ocean Gateway on the waterfront, as well as the parking area and Moon Tide Park, a little ways down Commercial Street from where Carnaval Maine was last week. Over four days, that event attracted just shy of 11,000 attendees, which fell well short of the 15,000 organizers had projected but was still hailed as a success. Carnaval was founded in 2020 as a way to bring visitors to Portland during a slow season and the first two were held on the Eastern Promenade.

“We received tons of positive feedback from attendees who loved the new venue, the entertainment lineup, and all that Carnaval Maine has to offer,” said Brian Corcoran, CEO of Shamrock Sports & Entertainment, which produces the event. “We had visitors from 23 states and Canada – up from 19 states a year ago – and brought an estimated $4.3 million in economic impact to Greater Portland.”

MAMM was a partner in Carnaval Maine as well. Several students got to perform, and a percentage of proceeds supported the school.

Cary Tyson, executive director of Portland Downtown, a nonprofit that advocates for downtown businesses, said bringing large-scale events to the area always has positive benefits.

“We love having these things downtown to bring people in,” he said. “People might stay and grab a beverage or a meal, or see a store they want to come back to.”

Tyson said having bigger events downtown, as opposed to other areas that might be home to more residences, guards against concerns.

“People move here because they love the engagement and the activity of an urban commercial environment,” he said.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: