Old Port Festival expanding, downtown events evolving

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Old Port Festival, always held the first weekend in June and the largest one-day festival in the city, will be expanding in size, scope and duration this year.

Steve Hewins, executive director of Portland's Downtown District which organizes the event, says its success has basically forced them to rethink how best to bring people into the downtown and keep business booming, too.

"It has outgrown a single day," explained Hewins. "We want to create a real festival that lasts a weekend so we can become more of a destination and get more people to come and spend a couple of days in Portland."

The event will kick-off with the First Friday Art Walk on June 6th and run through Sunday the 8th. The Art Walk will also expand, as the city will once again close Congress Street to cars, allowing more room for pedestrians and artists. The city experimented with this back in December and it drew huge crowds and was well received by businesses and residents alike.

Hewins says they will also add to the line up of musicians playing on Sunday.

"We're expanding the footprint of that day too, to add another stage in Monument Square, so we'll spread the crowds out even more that way," he stated.

He says they are not quite ready to announce all the events they have planned, but says the plan is to create an event where people can explore the history and culture of Maine's largest city.

Hewins says the Downtown District also plans to shake-up the line-up for this summer's Alive at 5 concert series.

"We are trying to freshen the music up and try to create maybe bigger crowds than we have had in the past couple of years," he said.

He says they are also working on a few other events that he can't reveal just yet because they are working out the details.

"It will surprise some folks when we do launch that," he said.

"We are all working with all these groups to try to create a better foundation in Portland to continue the nice path that we are on right now."


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