Gabriel Frey weaves a basket at the 25th Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market held at the Abbe Museum on July 7. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ABBE MUSEUM

Native American fest a success at new venue

BAR HARBOR — After being held for several years outside of the downtown area on the College of the Atlantic campus, the Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market moved downtown to the Abbe Museum’s backyard.

“It was time for us to bring the festival closer to the museum,” Abbe CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko said Monday. The location is more accessible to the bulk of the town’s foot traffic.

The move didn’t appear to dampen attendance or anyone’s mood at the festival Saturday.

“It was really a beautiful day,” she said. “Everybody left smiling.”

The festival is sponsored by the Abbe and the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance.

The event has been held annually since 1989, featuring handcrafted Wabanaki ash and sweet grass baskets, wood and stone carvings, jewelry, beadwork, painted drums and other items representative of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people in Maine.

The event utilized the Abbe Museum’s facility and large backyard, which Catlin-Legutko said was comparable to the space the festival used at COA.

This event is the second market that the Abbe supports, the other being the Indian Market held in May. Shoppers buy directly from the artists at these events, which gives them the chance to learn about the items and cultural significance behind them.

Unlike the spring Indian Market, which is a juried show, this summer festival serves as a noncompetitive marketplace for basketmakers of all experience levels.

The Basketmakers Alliance, formed in 1993, has lowered the average age of basketmakers from 63 to 40 since their inception. The group was founded with 55 members, but now has more than 200 basketmakers.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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