The 22nd Annual Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market returns to the College of the Atlantic on Saturday, July 11. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Native American Festival returns for 22nd year

BAR HARBOR — The Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market will celebrate 22 years on July 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at College of the Atlantic (COA). The festival is free and open to the public and features the celebrated Native arts market, Native music, dance, storytelling, craft demonstrations and delicious food. A collaborative partnership between the Abbe Museum, the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) and COA, the festival offers visitors, collectors and gallery owners the opportunity to buy directly from the artists, as quality and authenticity is the hallmark for this annual festival.

“I was about four years old when I first attended the Native American Festival in Bar Harbor,” said George Neptune, Passamaquoddy basket maker. “I have watched it grow from a few elders selling baskets while singers and dancers performed, to a festival that displays a wide array of Native crafts and cultural demonstrations. As a master basket maker, I know that without the support and encouragement I received by attending the festival, I would not have become the artist I am today.”

The festival itself began in 1989 at the Abbe and moved around to several locations in town before landing at COA. The location on the oceanfront grounds of the college allowed the festival to grow, with ample space for vendors and parking for many more guests. This nationally renowned Indian Market features exquisite hand crafted Wabanaki ash and sweet grass baskets, wood and stone carvings, jewelry, beadwork and dolls, as well as other handcrafted items representing the beauty and culture of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people of Maine and the Maritimes. For many visitors, this is a rare opportunity to meet the artists and learn about contemporary Wabanaki arts and cultures from Maine and the Maritimes.

MIBA, as part of its mission to preserve and extend the art of basket making within the Wabanaki communities, is responsible for bringing in dozens of new, “next generation” basket makers and their families to the event. Many of these talented basket makers first got their start at the festival over the more than 20 years it has been in Bar Harbor.

From a bow-drill fire-starting demonstration to children’s storytelling to a mosquito dance to a Wabanaki cuisine demonstration to a silent auction, there is undoubtedly something for everyone at the Native American Festival.

Parking and public transportation are available, and the grounds of the College of the Atlantic are handicapped accessible. Visitors are encouraged to use the free Island Explorer bus system, which stops at COA. Proceeds support the nonprofit teaching and apprenticeship programs of MIBA.

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