Ice & Smelt Festival Highlights


Ice & Smelt Festival Highlights: 

250th Anniversary Event coordinated by Merrymeeting Arts Center

(See Photo Gallery below)


Merrymeeting Arts Center was honored to coordinate the opening event for the 250th Anniversary Celebration.  MAC intends to hold this festival on an annual basis creating new traditions based on Bowdoinham’s rich past and colorful present as we move towards the future.

The Opening Reception was held on Friday evening with the reading of the Local Myth, “Smelt Makes Ice”.  The exhibit of art by local artists included a variety of whimsical pieces as well as pieces depicting the river and bay in winter.  Items were on display, loaned by the Bowdoinham Historical Society and other community members as well as a model ice house loaned by Eleanor Everson from the Dresden Historical Society.  On Saturday people came to see the exhibit and to view a film on ice cutting.  Many had no idea of the magnitude of the ice cutting business in Bowdoinham.

Activities on Saturday were held at both the Masonic Lodge and Cathance Place (green building). 

“Decorate a Smelt” kept children and adults busy for hours…

        Legos – a Build a Smelt Shack Contest – and a free Lego build table – were highly popular.

     At Cathance Place children and adults were busy making luminaries and printing t-shirts using “smelt” on loan from Friends of Merrymeeting Bay. 

               The highlight of the day was the Best Beard contest.  The Bowdoinham Boys had some stiff (and friendly) competition from members of the Maine Men’s Facial Hair Club.  While the contestants waited some decorated smelt…

  Afternoon activities included a puppet show – Fairy Tales told from a Smelt’s Perspective – followed by The Carnevale (parade).  Smelts – along with additional Local Myth characters will be a part of the annual parade for years to come.    

           The afternoon came to an end with an archery demonstration and a bonfire at the waterfront.

In the evening the Ice & Smelt Ball was held and Royalty 1 and 2 were crowned.  They have agreed to appear at the Christmas Tree Lighting and in the Parade wearing Smelt Heads.

Merrymeeting Arts Center plans to hold this festival again next January with some modifications.  As one participant observed…it was nice to see parents, children and community members
having a lot of fun with simple, “traditional”, activities.