WEEKLY BLOG


How to Keep Your Kid Entertained This February Break
February 14th, 2020 | By Stacy Oswald

It all starts with a school calendar you found stuffed in your kid's backpack. Being a responsible parent, you hang it on the refrigerator, so you're prepared for teacher workshop days, school events, and the like. You make a mental note to plan ahead for the week-long vacations, but you have time, so you push it to the back of your head. Before you know it, your child comes home from school, bouncing off the walls, declaring how excited they are for winter break. Oops.

Begin and End Your Week With Winter Carnivals
On February 15th, Maine Audubon in Falmouth will be hosting a day-long Winter Carnival. Maine Audubon is the state's oldest and largest wildlife conservation organization, so its only fitting that this carnival is nature-themed. There will be plenty of outdoor activities, including a snowshoeing trip with the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Program. For those not to keen on spending time in the cold, indoor activities will be held in the Audubon Center. And, like any good carnival, there will be face painting, live music, and food trucks.

Double the fun by attending Old Orchard's Winter Carnival precisely one week after Falmouth's. This carnival falls on Saturday the 22nd, but you have the opportunity to start the festivities early. On Friday night, there will be an epic sledding party on Old Orchard St, where a massive mountain has been constructed. Spend the night flying down the hill with family and friends, then get ready to gear up and have all over again. The following day the carnival will commence, and it will have everything a child could ask for: pony rides, a petting zoo, and plenty of cocoa! Save yourself the extra trip by staying at the Alouette Beach Resort, where guests will receive 20% off and a special snowman making kit.


What About Breakfast at Becky's
When we look back on our childhood as adults, the most cherished memories come from the simplest of moments. These treasured memories cost us (or rather, our parents) very little money or effort at all. Over winter break, make the most of a mundane morning by rounding up the kids and heading to Becky's Diner in Portland.
Besides the delicious and acclaimed food they've been serving since 1991, Becky's has the famous Mickey Mouse Fruity-Face Pancake. This dish has an uncanny resemblance to the widely loved Disney character and never fails to put a smile on a child's face. Plus, you can feel good as a parent, knowing that your child is being served a well-balanced breakfast. Rather than the whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and sprinkles some establishments choose to put on their children's dishes, Becky's opts to decorate their pancakes with fresh fruit!

Treehouse Toys
It hasn't even been two months, but I guarantee many of your child's Christmas presents lay untouched and forgotten at the bottom of the toy box or shoved somewhere in the corner of their room. There's a good chance at least one toy hasn't been played with since Christmas Day. Give yourself a break from entertaining the kids and let them bring home some fun from Treehouse Toys.

Every single item at Treehouse Toys has been researched and tested by dedicated employees for safety, play value, and enjoyment. They even categorize their toys into five groups: Create, Grow, Learn, Play, and pretend. The Grow and Learn categories have educational games intended to help your child learn as they play. Well-being items such as pacifiers, bibs, and bath toys can also de found in these categories. The Create category will help your child tap into their inner Beethoven or Van Gogh, and the Play and Pretend groups are for what kids do best. Play and pretend!


 

V-Day
February 7th, 2020 | By Stacy Oswald 

Valentine's Day has a myriad of meanings, and it all depends on who you ask. To those that have been scorned by love, it is often seen as a contentious day, while lovebirds use it as an opportunity to celebrate their special bond. Some simply couldn't care about this holiday at all. Whatever your standpoint, Valentine 2020 lands on a Friday this year, so plan ahead and treat yourself to a night out!

Rising Thighs: Burlesque and Beer
Rising Thighs is an aptly named burlesque show that will be hosted at Rising Tide Brewing Company on Valentine's Day. This show promises burlesque, drag, and, of course, Rising Tides wide selection of tasty beer. $12, or $15 at the door, buys you three hours of entertainment that can be enjoyed with your partner, friends, or just yourself! Special guests include Honey Nightingale, LaLa Drew, and Fantasia. These fabulous performers will be singing, demonstrating their aerial skills, and belly dancing all night long. So, if your tired of humdrum Valentine's dinners with cliche heart-shaped desserts, order your ticket for this dazzling event now. Life is more fun on the wild side!
Valentine's Day Comedy Night
Couples who laugh together, stay together. Save the romance for later in the night and spend Valentine's Day clutching your sides as you reel with laughter. As you enjoy the line-up of hilarious comedians, you can also feel good knowing that proceeds from your ticket purchase are going towards The Lafayette Family Cancer Center. Fighting cancer is a battle that The Lafayette Family of Hotels holds close to their heart, and their efforts have saved many lives.

Fireside Inn & Suites is kind enough to be hosting this exciting event. The show starts at 8:00 pm, and tickets are being sold for $20 each or $35 per couple. The hotel is also offering comedy show-goers a special discounted rate at their hotel of only $100 for a room. They are also taking reservations at Zackery's Fireside Restaurant, which is located in the hotel.

Masquerade at the Mansion
The lavish mansion that houses the Portland Club will be the home of a masquerade ball this Valentine's Day, hosted by Gold Coast Labels. Masks will be provided at the door, and your ticket purchase will determine which mask you receive. There will be upbeat music, a fully loaded bar, and a photographer that will capture the magical moments all night long. All ticket purchasers will receive a special gift which could possibly win them a prize at the end of the night.

Tickets for couples are discounted at only $26 each. Those flying solo will have to purchase a $30 ticket or a $40 ticket, which will grant you an extraordinary mask that will surely get you noticed by your future spouse. Festivities begin at 9:00 pm, and the party doesn't stop until 1:00 am.

Family Valentine's Day at the Tontine Mall
If you're looking to include the entire family in on the Valentine's Day fun, head to Tontine Mall in Brunswick on February 13th. This quaint mall is nestled in the heart of downtown Brunswick and is open late Valentine's Day Eve to bring you a family fun event. Shops will be open late for your convince, and there will be live music, raffles, and delicious food. The event is free, but for only $20, you can participate in the dessert and beer pairing. This curated group of beers is provided by Moderation, and the delicious desserts are the creation of Wild Oats. 

Family Valentine's Day is a perfect event because you get to celebrate the holiday with the whole family and then spend Valentine's Day with just your significant other. Plus, once you've rung out all the fun you can from this jovial gathering, you have the rest of downtown Brunswick to explore together.
 

Carnaval Maine 2020
January 31, 2020 | By Stacy Oswald 

Maine is in for a blast from the past. A festivity that hasn't been around since 1923 is finally making a comeback. Carnaval Maine is being revived by Shamrock Signature Sports and Entertainment to celebrate the state's 200th anniversary. The Bicentennial Ball kicks off this three-day event. Between the snowboarding, dancing, and craft beers, there will surely be something to pique everybody's interest.

The When & Where
The Bicentennial Ball will be held Thursday, January 30th. The actual Carnaval lasts from Friday, February 1st to Saturday the 2nd. Festivities begin at 11:00 am both days and last well into the night, ending at 10pm. 

Carnaval Maine will be held in Eastern Promenade in Portland. Shamrock Entertainment understands that convenient parking in Portland is hard to come by, so that is why they're offering free parking at the Ocean Gateway Parking Lot. From there, it's only a short walk to the carnival, or you can hop on the Narrow Gauge Railroad for only $5.

Activities
As mentioned, the Bicentennial Ball kicks off this spectacular event. There will be a DJ playing throughout the night, local craft beers, and delicious apps to snack on as you enjoy the night. Although the word "ball" may bring to mind beautiful gowns and cute shoes, Shamrock recommends you leave the dress at home and opt for warmer layers instead as this ball is being held in a giant igloo! What better way to celebrate Maine's 200th anniversary than in a building made of snow. 

Food and beer lovers are going to love the Bites & Brews sessions that will be held twice a day Friday and Saturday. These sessions take place inside the same giant igloo where the ball is hosted. For only $65 a ticket, you get to taste six Maine craft beers that are expertly paired with artisan cuisine from local restaurants.

USASA Maine Mountain Series is hosting a USASA National Qualifying Rail Jam on Friday. If you don't know what USASA or Rail Jam is, it's actually quite simple. USASA is the United States Amateur Snowboard Association, and a rail jam is when snowboarders jump onto and ride on a railing. Whether snowboarding is a hobby of yours or not, it will certainly be entertaining to watch these talented athletes perform impressive tricks in hopes for the gold. If you're a budding snowboarder yourself, you can compete in Sunday's rail jam, which is open to the public.

There is also plenty of family entertainment for those with children. Local mascots such as Crusher from the Maine Red Claws will be seen wandering the venue, waiting to take pictures and sign autographs. There will also be fun caricature artists, ice sculptors, and dazzling light shows.

Origin
In 1852, the first portion of the Bates Mill in Lewiston was completed, and with it brought an influx of Quebec citizens looking for work in the mills. Those brave immigrants made Maine their new home, which is why our state has such a rich, French background. With so many Mainers with ties to Quebec, its only natural that we became inspired by their culture and customs, including the Carnaval de Quebec. Up to a million people every year attend this festival to have fun and celebrate winter.

The first Carnaval de Quebec took place in 1894 and quickly became a time-tested tradition. The five-hour journey to this winter festival has become something of a pilgrimage to many Mainers, so it only made sense to bring the festivities to Maine.

Get Your Tickets Now!
If certain parts of this carnival seem more appealing to you than others, then that's okay! Shamrock is offering three different types of tickets for everyone's convenience. For those looking to party it up on their favorite state's birthday, there are tickets available for just the Bicentennial Snow Ball, but keep in mind, this a 21+ event.

For the carnival itself, general admission tickets are only $20, and children under three can get in for free. Anyone interested in the Bites & Brews sessions must buy a Bites & Brews tickets, which also grants you general admission.
 

Children's Museum & Theater of Maine
January 24, 2020 | By Stacy Oswald 

Many activities that center around children can often be boring and tedious for parents or guardians. When you bring your child to the park, you have to sit and keep watch on them at all times as if you're a warden and they're the prisoner. Going to the movies with your child usually involves spending a lot of money on a movie you don't really want to see. The Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine is different because it is fun and interactive for both child and parent.

History
The Children's Museum & Theatre originally began as two separate entities. In 1923, The Children's Theatre planted its roots in Portland. The theatre produced shows for young children and was widely popular, so much so that the theatre troupe began traveling and performing in parks and public spaces. The Junior League of Portland were the original actors in these shows, but upon seeing the excitement in the children, they began letting children participate in the plays as well.

What about the museum aspect? The Children's Museum of Maine was founded by the Junior League of Portland in 1976. The original museum was located next door to Portland in Cape Elizabeth. After much effort to raise funds, in 1993, the museum moved to its permanent home on 142 Free Street in Portland. It wasn't until 2008 that the museum merged with the theatre to produce the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine as we know it today.

The Theater
Starting on the lower level is the expansive theatre, which is currently holding an exhibit named Action! Headquarters! This is where kids can exercise their imagination, dress up as their own creative superhero, and flaunt their superpowers on the stage. With so many colorful props and fantastical backdrops, kids can feel like they're performing a real play.

The theater certainly isn't meant for everyone. Children uninterested in thespian life can flaunt their talent backstage in the Backup Lair, where they can learn about the light and sound equipment. There is also a puppet show where children can tell a story through their puppets as only children know how to do best.

The Museum
The next three levels are dedicated to the museum aspect of the organization. With over a dozen exhibits, there is something that will capture every child's interest. Our Town is located on the first floor and this is where children can interact with each other in a town shrunk down to their size. There is a farmer's market, car repair shop, and even a post office. Watch your kids become young entrepreneurs as they grab a wrench, operate the lobster boat, or examine the sick teddy bears in the Be Well Center.

The next floor is home to the ranger station, space shuttle, and several other exhibits. This is where children can stay close to Earth and learn about sustainable forestry or soar into the cosmos and learns about our galaxy. Also located on the second level is the ever-popular touch tank where starfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins live.

The third and top floor is home to Cloud City. This exhibit is a sensory-rich environment, with many soothing lights and sounds flowing throughout the room that makes you feel as though you are floating on a cloud. After a day filled with so much excitement, Cloud City is an excellent way to relax.

Outdoor Adventure
Open seasonally, the Outdoor Adventure area has been transformed into an ocean paradise. Climb aboard Mr. Magee's boat, dig in the sand for treasure, or splash in the water with the whales. Parents can have peace of mind that their children are exploring and playing in a safe environment. In an age filled with iPads and iPhones, it's heart-warming to see kids connect with nature again.

Open seasonally, the Outdoor Adventure area has been transformed into an ocean paradise. Climb aboard Mr. Magee's boat, dig in the sand for treasure, or splash in the water with the whales. Parents can have peace of mind that their children are exploring and playing in a safe environment. In an age filled with iPads and iPhones, it's heart-warming to see kids connect with nature again.
 

Breweries In Southern Maine
January 10, 2020 | By Stacy Oswald 

Maine is beginning to garner nationwide notoriety for its abundance of craft breweries. In 2012, there were 43 craft breweries in Maine, an impressive number for such a rural state. Since then, however, that number has shot up to 90, many of which are located in Southern Maine. Each brewery is founded with love and passion and is deserving of its own recognition, but that would turn this blog post into a short novel. Instead, here is an overview of just a few of the excellent breweries Maine has to offer.

Maine Beer Company
If you ever sat a bar in Maine, chances are you have seen a nondescript, white tap handle. Many companies choose frilly, eye-catching designs for their tap handles to attract more customers to their beer. Maine Beer Company instead chooses simplicity and lets its reputation precede itself.

If you ever hear a Mainer talking about Lunch, there's a good chance they're not talking about food. Lunch is the name of Maine Beer Company's trademark beer. It is an IPA with an ABV of 7% and a unique flavor profile consisting of citrus, pine, and guava. People who don't care for IPA's start singing a different tune when they taste Lunch's smooth finish. What many people don't know, Mainers included, is that Lunch is actually named after a whale. This whale has a bite taken out of her fin and has been visiting the Maine coast since 1982.

Taste Lunch and the many other brews by Maine Beer Company at their tasting room in Freeport. They have twenty rotating taps, plenty of seating, and delicious wood-fired pizzas. Dogs are allowed on the patio, so come back in the summer with your furry friend!

Fore River Brew Company
Having opened its doors in 2016, Fore Reiver Brew company is relatively new to the brew game but has already grown immensely in popularity. Located in South Portland (or as the locals like to say, SOPO), this brewery is not far from the river from which its name derives. Unlike many new breweries, Fore River is not jumping on the IPA bandwagon. Although they do brew some very flavorful IPA's, Fore River is more dedicated to producing a spectrum of beer options. This includes American Wild Ales, Irish Reds, Stouts, and Sours.

Although nestled in the bustling city of SOPO, stepping into the tasting room at Fore River feels like visiting a rural, country store. There is a roaring wood stove in the tasting room that gives you a warm feeling of comfort. Most days of the week, this is an intimate setting to enjoy a beer with friends. On Fridays and Saturdays, though, there is live music, and the small space transforms into an electric concert hall.

Austin Street Brewery 
Jake Austin and Will Fisher, the owners of Austin Street Brewery, are the epitome of Mainer work ethic. They began dabbling in home brewing on Austin St in Westbrook, from which the company got its name. They soon realized they had a passion and a talent for what they were doing and opened their brewery in early 2014. Self-financed, their beginnings were humble, and they started off with a one-barrel brewing system that they assembled themselves.

To this day, Austin and Fisher are the sole owners of the company. This limits them financially, but the duo both agree that this is the best way to ensure the integrity and quality of their beers. Despite this financial hindrance, their company has grown astronomically. They now produce over 40 beers and utilize 160 brewing barrels.

Austin Street has two tasting rooms in Portland. Their Fox Street tasting room is very chic and modern and offers a wide selection of their many beers. The Industrial Way location is directed more towards dog lovers, with dogs allowed both on the patio and inside the tasting room. Both sites offer fantastic service and tasty beer.
 

New Year's Eve Events
December 27, 2019 | By Stacy Oswald 


In only one short week, 2019 will come to an end, closing the chapter on a decade full of technological advancements, breaking news, and memories, both fond and disheartening. Many are eager to usher in the new decade with open arms and are planning their New Year's Eve festivities already. If you're left scratching your head at and at a loss for plans this New Year's Eve, perhaps this list of events will slick the gears in your mind.

New Year's Eve At The Planetarium
The Southworth Planetarium at the University of Southern Maine has been a place of fun and education for Mainers of all ages. For those unfamiliar with the establishment, the planetarium is similar to a movie theater in that it has a large projection screen and rows of plush seating. What separates the planetarium from your traditional movie theater is that the screen is on the dome ceiling, and the seats recline into a laying down position for comfortable viewing. Shows and classes held at the Southworth Planetarium generally focus on astronomical subjects.


For New Year's Eve, the team at Southworth has put together an entertaining line-up of their most popular shows. For the price of only one admission, you can come in and watch as many of the shows as you want. Beginning at 6pm, the shows don't stop until 11:55pm when the screen will switch to show the ball being dropped live at Time Square. If six hours of learning about space doesn't sound entertaining to you, then don't worry! The planetarium will also be including shows such as Expedition Reef and Dinosaurs at Dusk, ensuring that everyone will have a captivating experience.

A Masquerade Ball
With 2020 just around the corner, many nostalgic people are becoming reminiscent of the 1920s. In honor of the roaring twenties, the Best Western Merry Manor Inn is hosting a very Gatsby-Esque masquerade ball at the Maine Table Restaurant in South Portland. Go all out and arrive in your most elegant evening wear or keep it casual; the choice is yours as long as you bring a mask.

DJ Stormin' Normin will provide the entertainment for the night alongside a karaoke contest (don't worry, all singers have passed a preliminary round). Besides singing and dancing, there will also be appetizers provided as well as a champagne toast when the clock strikes midnight. All of this entertainment can be bought for only $25.

This event is 21+, and all attendees are urged to drink responsibly. For those that cannot find a DD, the Merry Manor is offering events goers a two-person room for the discounted rate of only $100.

Midnight Soiree At Victoria Mansion
Historic Victoria Mansion is opening its doors on New Year's Eve to those looking for a night of elegant celebration. This ornate mansion in Portland was built during the 1850s and served as a summer home to the Morse family. The home is a stunning example of Italian Villa style architecture. When the mansion was bought by the Libby family in the 1890s, the new owners recognized the beauty of the home and took special care to preserve the original decor.

Enjoy New Year's Eve in style at the soiree, which will include live music from TPerk Productions, a selection of appetizers, drinks, and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. As you drink, eat, and mingle on New Year's Eve, you can also explore the sprawling mansion. Rarely seen spaces in the estate will be open for attendees to discover and enjoy.

Tickets for this magical night are being sold for $55, and space is limited. No walk-ins will be allowed. Feel good about your New Year's Eve celebrations by knowing proceeds from this event will go towards the upkeep of Victoria Mansion, a historical landmark of Portland, Maine.


Maine’s 32nd Annual Lobster Dip
December 20, 2019 | By Stacy Oswald

Mainers have a reputation for being robust and resilient people, and we wear that rep like a badge of honor. Every New Year’s Day, however, hundreds of the hardiest people in the state gather on the frozen sands of Old Orchard Beach for the annual Lobster Dip.

What Is A Lobster Dip? Sound Delicious!
If you think you’ll be greeted with delicious lobster dip if you show up to Old Orchard Beach on New Year’s Day, you’ll be surprised when you instead find hundreds of people gathered in only their bathing suits. The Lobster Dip is a polar plunge where Mainers from all over the state gather to run and dive into the freezing cold waters of the ocean. Despite what you may think, there are always cheers of excitement as people plunge into the sea and smiles all around as they come back out.

Why?
The first question everybody has when they hear about the Lobster Dip is always, “why?” Some do it to test their mental fortitude while others do it to prove their salt as a Mainer. Whatever the underlying reason may be, the most important motivation for participating in the Lobster Dip is charity. All proceeds from the event go directly towards the Special Olympics of Maine. 

All “dippers” must contribute $100 to participate in the Lobster Dip. The $100 can be your own money or raised through charitable donations from others. Dippers can even form teams of five or more and register under their own creative team name. 

In 2019, the Lobster Dip raised a whopping $100,000 for the Special Olympics. These funds go towards supporting the over 4,300 athletes with intellectual disabilities across the state. These athletes train hard, and their excitement can be seen on their faces every year during the seasonal Special Olympics.

The Fun Begins
The dip begins at noon, but even if you don’t want to dive into the chilling ocean water, there’s still plenty of fun to be had! 2020 will be the first year that a costume contest will be held at the Lobster Dip. So many people had fun dressing up for the dip in previous years, many choosing to dress up as giant lobsters, that event organizers decided to make a fun contest out of it.

After the dip is over, the post-dip festivities commence. The upcoming post-dip party will be held at The Brunswick right beside the beach. After braving the icy waters, dippers can immediately run inside and warm up in one of Old Orchard’s most recognizable hotels. The party will have a cash bar, live music, and a free buffet. The celebration goes on all day, so dippers will have plenty of time to mingle, make new friends, and have fun!

Want More?
If you’ve participated in the Lobster Dip before and are craving more, there are other dips, all equally as crazy, to join. One hour before midnight on New Year’s Eve is Portland’s Dip And Dash. Registration is $100, and the proceeds go towards the National Resource Council of Maine, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting Maine’s environment. If you’re too scared to brave the frigid ocean in the middle of the night, you can choose to participate in the Chicken Dip instead. For the Chicken Dip, all you have to do is dunk a single toe in the water.

If you still can’t get enough, January 4th, 2020 will be Kennebunk’s 19th annual Freezin’ For A Reason and is held in front of the Seaside Inn. This dip only costs $25 to get in, but the proceeds also got to a charitable cause. Your $25 will benefit Caring Unlimited, an organization that helps and supports victims of abuse in York County. Gather your friends and family and make this New Year a time to start a new tradition. Ring in the New Year by testing your limits and proving to yourself just how strong you are. You’ll be surprised by how much fun you'll have in the process!
 

The Holiday Season In Maine
December 13, 2019 | By Stacy Oswald 

The holiday season is finally upon us. For many, this is a stressful time of year. "Who am I buying presents for, and what do they want? What are the latest and hottest toys and gadgets?" Not to mention the bustling crowds of angry shoppers eager to lay their hands on the limited supply of merchandise. You've worked too hard not to enjoy this special time of year. Gather your loved ones, whether they be family or friends, and spend a night away from the department stores at one of these magical events.

A Time-Tested Tradition
The Nutcracker is a captivating ballet that draws in crowds from all walks of life, eager to take part in this timeless holiday tradition. Merrill Auditorium in Portland has the honor of hosting this classic play with regular admission tickets starting as low as $20. Your $20 will buy you two hours of entertainment filled with enchanting scenery and dazzling costumes. The cast of over two hundred members is comprised mainly of local Maine dancers making it the largest Nutcracker in New England. For those who aren't familiar with the Nutcracker, the play is based on the fairytale by E.T.A. Hoffmann. First premiered in Russia in 1982, one week before Christmas, The Nutcracker tells the story of young Maria. Maria, or Masha in Russia, is coming-of-age when, one Christmas, she finds a nutcracker that has come to life. The play recounts their adventures together as they wage war against the evil Mouse King. This thrilling saga gained increasing popularity in Russia and very quickly became a holiday time tradition. In 1944, The Nutcracker finally made it to US shores where the San Francisco Ballet first performed it. However, it wasn't until 1954 when the play hit New York City that it finally took off and captured the hearts of many Americans.

Parade Of Lights
The parade of lights in Portland is a spectacular light show that brightens both the sky and spirit. If you're wondering which street from which you can catch this captivating show, the answer is none. Instead of floats, this parade consists of boats. Every year for the past 14 years, ships of all shapes and sizes have congregated in Portland Harbor. These boats are decked out in twinkling lights, some modest and elegant, while others are vibrant and flashy. No matter the style, these boats sail across the harbor, their lights reflecting off the ocean to create a beautiful scene.

If Mother Nature is feeling kind and the night is fair, you can catch this light show for free from Dimillo's Marina or the Maine State Pier. Many of the harborside restaurants, including Dimillio's, offer special seating during the time of the parade. The best way to enjoy this show, however, is to catch a boat ride with Caso Bay Lines. Casco Bay Lines provides at least one, sometimes two, boats from which to enjoy the show. A ticket to embark is only $10, making this one of the most unique and affordable ways to enjoy the holiday season.

Time For New Traditions
The Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl is in its third year of operation, and it is quickly gaining popularity. This event is 21+, so hire a babysitter and enjoy some much-needed adult time away from the kids this holiday season. The crawl begins at Fore Play Sports Bar on 436 Fore St in Portland. From there, crawl (please, not literally) from bar to bar, with the list of participating establishments growing every year. Mingle with friends, enjoy discounted drinks, and capture the moment with the professional photographer on site.

The Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl only has two requirements in order to participate: You must be 21 or older, and you must have an ugly sweater. Your ugly sweater can be a cheap, thrift store find, but some people go all out and decorate their sweaters with flashing lights, ornaments, and sparkling garland. Those truly taken by the spirit of the holidays have been known to take it a step further and find insane, holiday-themed pants and hats to wear as well. Whatever your preference is, The Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl will undoubtedly win its way into your heart and become a new holiday tradition.
 


Explore The Portland Museum Of Art
December 6, 2019 | By Stacy Oswald

During your stay in Maine, you'll quickly learn why so many people fall in love with the state. The craggy coastal shores are something out of a movie, and there is no shortage of lush foliage to enjoy. There is so much beauty in Maine to be taken in, but not all of it is from nature. Maine is brimming with artists of all mediums, many of whom gather inspiration from the state's natural beauty. Many of these local artists' works can be viewed at the Portland Museum of Art.

Fun For Any Age
Many families, especially those with small children, choose to shy away from museums. The quiet and mature atmosphere of many museums doesn't always coincide with the antics of even the most well-behaved kids. The Portland Museum of Art (PMA) is different, though. PMA welcomes children and, in fact, encourages developing an appreciation for art in children at an early age. There are many interactive games and events where children can have fun and learn at the same time.

If your child is too old for finger painting, the PMA is an ideal place for them to visit as well. PMA has plenty of events and programs targeted towards teenagers. These programs are centered around honing in on your teenager's creative ability and making new friends with similar interests.

Tickets And Tours
The PMA is conveniently located right in Congress Square with access to plenty of public parking. General admission tickets are only $18, and anyone under the age of 21 can enter the museum for free, making this a very affordable day trip. The free admission to anyone under 21 years old is due to the Art for All initiative. The PMA is actively trying to engage more and more young people to take an interest in art and is doing so by removing the financial barrier.

If you know ahead of time when your visit to Maine will take place, you can book a group tour of the museum guided by art-loving experts. As a group, you will tour the museum and learn the rich history of many works of art and view the rotating exhibits. If you prefer to explore and appreciate at your own pace, the museum offers self-guided tours as well. 

If you plan on being at the museum for a while, don't bother bringing a snack as PMA has its own cafe. Give your feet a break and sit down and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee or cocoa and a delicious treat.

Programs And Events
As mentioned earlier, the PMA hosts many events, but not all of them are meant for children. Most of the PMA's events are film screenings of new and emerging directors and actors. These films are only $9 for admission, making it more affordable than going to a regular movie theater. PMA will also occasionally host a free screening of a family-friendly movie.

Besides films, PMA also hosts informative discussion groups, holiday events, and will even have local artists come in and discuss their work. All events are listed on the museum's website so you can plan your visit according to your own interests.

The Winslow Homer Studio; Who Was Winslow Homer?
The PMA is proud to own and display a large number of Winslow Homer's works. Although born in Boston, Homer is primarily associated with Maine. Like so many others, he fell in love with Maine during a visit and chose to spend the later years of his life by the Maine seacoast. Many of his most famous and influential works were inspired by the Maine coastline. In fact, his studio even faced the ocean so he could draw inspiration while he worked. Homer moved to Maine in 1883 and stayed where his soul felt most at home until his death in 1910.

Take A Tour Of The Winslow Homer Studio
In 2006, PMA was fortunate enough to purchase Homer's home in Prouts Neck, Maine. Extensive renovations were made on the building to bring it back to its former glory. The house now resembles the home as Homer knew it and is open for tours. The tour begins at PMA, where a luxury van will pick you and your group up and bring you to Homer's old home. There, you are free to explore the house, which will make you feel like you have been transported through time. The most exciting part of the tour is visiting Homer's old studio. You can even gaze out the same window he did while he worked and enjoy the same nautical vistas he did over 100 years ago.
 

The Portland State Theater
November 29, 2019 | By Stacy Oswald 

The heavy snowfall in Maine, coupled with the mountainous terrain, makes Maine a perfect vacation destination for skiers. However, as any Mainer can tell you, nobody knows when the first snowfall will come, and some years we've had to wait long into December. During this long, cold hiatus, many people are left wondering what to do with their free time. Mainers and vacationers alike can look no further than the Portland State Theater.

A Bit Of History
The Portland State Theater is turning 90 years old in 2019, and it is undoubtedly in the height of its glory. It first opened its doors in 1929 ad was known as one of the most technologically advanced motion picture theaters of its time. The theater boasted an ornate art deco style with much Spanish and Italian influence. At the time of the theater's opening, a single ticket would cost a theatergoer a mere 10 cents.

The theater thrived for over thirty years until its manager Ralph Tully retired, and long-time employee Edith Francis took his place in 1963. Francis was not entirely to blame, but the theater fell on hard times after the change in management. Many point the finger at the rise in home television sets. Unfortunately, poor Francis never had the opportunity to showcase his potential as he was struck and killed by a vehicle shortly after receiving the management position.
 
Some Dark Times Before The Theater Today
Following Francis' death, The Portland State Theater was bought by The American Theater Corporation and turn into an adult film venue. To little surprise, the theater fell into disarray, and much of the valuable memorabilia and decorations were either lost, stolen, or destroyed. The last adult film to air in the theater was in 1990 when it was then shut down to disrepair. Afterward, the theater bounced from owner to owner for two decades.
 
After $1.5 million in repairs, the state theater finally reopened its doors again in 2010, this time as a performing arts venue. The elaborate art deco style was kept, making stepping into The Portland State Theater feel like traveling back to the 1920s.
 
What Kind Of Shows Does The Theater Put On?
No longer a place for cinema, The Portland State Theater now hosts a variety of live performances. During the day, the theater puts on many field trips for school-age children. Most Southern and Central Mainers have experienced at least one trip to the Portland State theater in their childhood, where they learned to develop an appreciation for performance art.

In the evening, during the week and weekends, people can enjoy live music, theater performances, magic, and stand up comedy. The theater gives local artists a chance to showcase their talent, but the theater has also been known to host world-famous artists. Elvis Costello, Skrillex, The Flaming Lips, Aziz Ansari, The Arctic Monkeys, and Fun have all shared the enjoyment of performing at The Portland State Theater in the past.
 
Where Is The Theater And Where Can I Buy My Tickets
The Portland State Theater is located in downtown Portland on 609 Congress St. You have the option of buying your ticket directly at the venue, but your safer buying them online at The Portland State Theater's website. Not only is it more convenient, but Portland is a densely populated city, and the shows have been known to sell out quickly. The theater's website has most of its significant shows posted months in advance so that you can plan out your trip out according to when you're available and what you want to see.
 
The Surrounding Area
Parking is plentiful in downtown Portland and convenient, with the city offering parking meters that can be paid by your phone. Portland is known as a culinary hubbub, so adding dinner to your exciting night out will be effortless. Surrounding the theater are dozens of bars and restaurants you can visit before or after your show. No matter your taste or your budget, there is a restaurant near the Portland State Theater that will suit your needs.


Exploring Peaks Island
November 22, 2019 | By Stacy Oswald 
 
If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Portland area, you don’t have to look far. Of the 4,600 islands that Maine boasts, Peaks Island is the most populated and is located in Casco Bay. On Peaks Island, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Maine coast that seems to stretch on forever. Peaks Island offers a relaxing escape from city life with its many beaches and nature trails.

How Do I Get There?
This quaint island in Casco Bay is only three miles from the shores of Portland. The ferry rides to Peaks are only 17 minutes long, affordable, and even allow dogs. Ferry rides run at various times throughout the day, roughly between 6am-10pm, making this a perfect day trip to fit into your schedule. For a fee, the ferry can also transport your vehicle, but locals don’t recommend it. Peaks Island is only 740 acres and can easily be explored on foot.
What Is There To Do?
Peak’s Island is for the nature lover that wants to experience the best of coastal Maine. If you’re up for it, there is a 3.7-mile hiking trail that encircles the island, offering 360 degrees of scenic vistas. The quaint lobster boats and luxurious sailboats that criss-cross the harbor throughout the day ensure that every view is unique. For those not too keen on walking, Peaks Island offers a variety of rentals, including golf carts, bicycles, and kayaks. Locals on the island love sharing their home with visitors, and only ask that golf carts adhere to traffic laws.
Beaches
Peaks Island has three public beaches to offer. Sandy and Centennial Beach are both sandy, idyllic beaches where families and friends can enjoy laying out in the sun, a round of volleyball, or a refreshing dip in the ocean. Sandy beach is the closest to the ferry landing, and kayakers can enjoy exploring Catnip Island not far from the shore. Centennial beach is perfect for watching the sunset over Portland.

Cairn beach is on the far side of the island and is a rocky beach not ideal for swimming. This doesn’t mean you should pass up on visiting, though! Many visitors of this beach take part in the tradition of rock stacking. People spend hours having fun while they search the shore for the perfect rocks to balance and stack. Some of these rock structures can reach over ten feet in height. Once you’ve had your fun, leave your rock art behind for the next visitor to enjoy.
Explore WII Forts
Battery Steele is a decommissioned military fort located on Peaks Island.
Although the gun is no longer there, the battery still exists. In the 1990s, the Peaks Island Land Preserve purchased Battery Steele and registered it with the National Registry Of Historic Places. This historic landmark is open to the public, and tourists can travel back in time as they walk through the forts and explore the many nooks and crevices. Those that are daring enough can even discover the underground bunkers. It’s recommended that anyone that visits the battery should bring a flashlight. Built in 1942, the fort was named after Harry Lee Steele, who was an artillery officer in WWI. This battery boasted the largest land-based gun ever made in the United States. This powerful gun was capable of firing the largest land-based gun ever made in the United States. This powerful gun was capable of firing a 2,000 lb bullet over 26 miles.
A Brief History
Peaks Island has gone by many names over the years. In the early 1600s, the island was known only as Pond. The island’s name jumped back and forth between Munjoy and Palmer Island until the town settled on Peaks Island sometime in the mid-1700s. It’s not sure how the island got its name, but locals believe it may be from a soldier named Joseph Peak. It is not known when the first inhabitants of Peaks Island came to be, but there is evidence of a man named Christopher Levitt visiting the island as early as 1623. He proclaimed, “there was good fishing and much fowl.” By 1833, there were thirteen families living on the island, making 7o inhabitants. Today the island has just under 1,000 year-round residents. During the summer, the population triples to 3,000 and sometimes higher.


Support The Environment, Support The Community, Support Your Health
November 15, 2019 | By Stacy Oswald 

 
Portland's Farmers' Market is in its impressive 247th year of operation and is thriving now more than ever. This bountiful farmers' market owes its success to the over 40 local farmers that sell their goods there every week. These farmers are dedicated to their craft and take pride in their work. This commitment to quality ensures your shopping experience is full of warm smiles and friendly greetings.
 
When And Where Is The Farmers' Market?
Depending on the day of the week, Portland's Famers' Market can be found at one of two convenient locations. On Wednesdays, it can be located at Deering Oak Park from 7am-1pm. On Saturdays, the market can be found at Monument Square, also from 7am-1pm. Both locations are easily accessible and offer plenty of parking.
 
Sounds Fun, But I Don't Need Any Fresh Veggies Right Now
If your vacation in the Portland area is brief or you are merely passing through, you may opt to forgo the farmers' market. After all, the fresh produce will only spoil before you have a chance to bring it home, right? Though logical, that assumption is very wrong. There are a plethora of treasures to be found at this farmers' market that can appeal to everyone's individual needs.
 
The Portland Farmers' Market offers a wide variety of products besides fresh fruits and vegetables. At the market, you will be able to find local honey, dairy products, a variety of meats, eggs, mushrooms, flowers, and even handwoven bedding. Each vendor offers unique products that will keep you shopping and entertained for hours.
 
What Happens During Wintertime?
Unlike most farmers' markets that take a break during the harsher months, the Portland Farmers' Market is open year-round. During the winter, the market is moved indoors and held at 631 Stevens St. As you may be assuming, winters in Maine are nowhere near ideal for farming, but that doesn't mean there's any less product to sell during this time of year. The wintertime is when many greenhouse farmers come out of the woodwork to sell their produce. Meats, dairy products, and textiles are still available in the winter, ensuring that the market hardly varies from season to season
Rich History
The first public farmers' market in Portland was held in 1768, meaning America still belonged to England at this time! Prior to 1768, people generally farmed their own food. However, being on the ocean, Portland was quick to grow. More jobs brought more people, which resulted in less land to go around. Farmers began peddling their food door-to-door in homemade hand carts. History even tells us of a man named Stephen Cash, who owned a bright red wheelbarrow which he would plop in from of city hall and fill with lobsters to sell.
 
1805 is the year the farmers' market moved Hay Market Square, or, as we now call it, Monument Square. It stayed at this famous landmark for five years before being bounced around over the centuries, only for it to return to Monument Square in 1976.
 
Feel Good About Yourself
Purchasing products from the Portland Farmers' Market means you're putting money into the pockets of hard-working local families rather than throwing it at multi-billion-dollar businesses. Because the food is local, minimal greenhouse gases are created during the transfer of foods as it is only traveling a few miles, rather than across the country or even across continents.
 
Helping the environment and the community is applaudable, but you're also helping yourself out in the process when you purchase from local farmers. Fresh foods from the Portland Farmers' Market is free of harsh chemicals and preservatives. Shop happy knowing you're doing a good thing for yourself and the community around you.
 
South Portland, Maine Turkey Trot 2019
November 8, 2019 | By Stacy Oswald 

 
It seems every store you walk into is blaring Christmas music. The shelves are lined with festive decorations, and your friends are even putting up their Christmas trees in the first week of November. While we all love the cheer that the Christmas spirit brings, everyone seems to be forgetting one crucial holiday… Thanksgiving!
 
Thanksgiving Traditions
Family and friends gathering together to share thanks as they dive into a delicious turkey is the central theme surrounding Thanksgiving. However, the beautiful thing about Americans is that we all evolve into our own quirky family traditions. Some families start a game of touch football in the backyard while others drink cocoa while they snuggle up and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. You’re probably ticking through a list of your own family traditions in the back of your head as you read this. Whatever your turkey-time routine is, there’s a good chance you have room in your day for one new, meaningful activity.
 
Turkey Trot 5k
2019 will mark the third annual Savage Family Turkey Trot. This family event is held in honor of Nathan Savage, and the proceeds go towards the Nathan Savage Memorial Fund. What better way to jumpstart your Thanksgiving appetite than to run a 5k? If running and sweating isn’t your ideal way to start your day off, though, then no worries! People are welcome to run, walk, push their strollers, or even take their furry friends with them. However you decide to participate, you and your family can have fun while supporting a touching cause.
Who Is Nathan Savage?
Nathan Savage was a loving husband and a caring father to three beautiful girls, triplets to be exact. Determined to be around to watch his family grow, he dedicated himself to fitness. An avid swimmer, cyclist, and runner, he was ready to participate in his first full Iron Man event in 2016. However, tragedy struck this unsuspecting family when Nathan suffered a fatal heart attack just months before his 40th birthday in 2016.
What Is The Nathan Savage Memorial Fund?
Displaying strength that few of us possess, the Savage family transformed their heartache into good by starting the Nathan Savage Memorial Fund. Nathan was a man dedicated to health and fitness, and this fund reflects that commitment to being active. The fund benefits youth recreational groups in the Portland area, ensuring that the children of Portland will always have a way to remain active.
 
How Do I Sign Up And Where Is This?
Registration for this 5k can conveniently be done online. The Turkey Trot takes place on Thanksgiving Day in Bug Light Park. Bug Light Park is located on the coast in South Portland with picturesque views of the harbor. Participating in the 5k will also give you a perfect family photo opportunity in front of the adorable, little lighthouse for which the park is named.
 
A Tradition To Remember
The Turkey Trot begins at9am, making it easy to slide into even the busiest Thanksgiving Day. On a day dedicated to being thankful, you can participate in this 5k and be thankful for your health and the health of your loved ones. It’s never too late to start new traditions!