Participants in a previous year's Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market, which will be held downtown at the Abbe Museum this year. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Native American Festival returns for 25th year

BAR HARBOR —The Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market will celebrate 25 years on Saturday, July 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a new location at the Abbe Museum, 26 Mount Desert St.

The festival is free and open to the public and features a Native American arts market, Native American music, dance, storytelling, craft demonstrations and a silent auction. A collaborative partnership between the Abbe Museum and the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA), the festival offers visitors, collectors and gallery owners the opportunity to buy directly from the artists.

The event features handcrafted Wabanaki ash and sweet grass baskets, wood and stone carvings, jewelry, beadwork, painted drums and other items representing the beauty and culture of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people in Maine and the Maritimes. For many visitors, this is a rare opportunity to meet the artists and learn about contemporary Wabanaki arts and cultures.

The Abbe Museum has expanded its marketplace for Wabanaki artists with the development of the Abbe Museum Indian Market each May, and the festival will continue to serve an educational and economic role for the community alongside the market. As sister markets, the two offer a range of opportunities for the public to engage with Wabanaki artists and educators. The festival serves as a nonjuried, noncompetitive marketplace. It is accessible to artists who are beginning their careers and interested in working alongside seasoned artists who have done larger markets.

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. At the time of MIBA’s founding in 1993, there were fewer than a dozen basket makers younger than the age of 50 statewide that were still practicing and learning this ancient and once prolific art form. Through 25 years of educational programs and marketing efforts, the MIBA has lowered the average age of basket makers from 63 to 40 and increased numbers from 55 founding members to 200-plus basket makers today.

The festival is sponsored by Maine Public.


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