Come to the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder Restoration Festival May 27-28

Posted:  Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 7:00am

Join us on Memorial Day weekend to celebrate the return of the alewives! The 10th annual Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder Restoration Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, May 27 and 28. “We are holding the festival to celebrate the return of the alewives and the completion of the restoration work,” said Deb Wilson, one of the event organizers. “We are finally finished (with only a couple more stones to install) -- what a wonderful achievement thanks to neighbors and friends of the fish ladder.”

Thousands and thousands of alewives will be the stars of the festival and there will be viewing at both the bottom and top of the fish ladder. In addition, Russ and Diana Williams have again offered to open their yard (the upper third of the fish ladder) so that festival goers can see the fish up close during their ascent. Festival events will take place in many locations around Damariscotta Mills---at the fish house, at the bottom of the ladder, at Mulligan’s Smokehouse, along Ladds Hill Road, at the top of the ladder, and at Alewives Fabrics on Main Street. Look for signs pointing the way to activities and maps showing the location of all events.

Two events that were introduced last year, a 5K and 10K road race and an evening concert, were so successful that we’ll hold them again this year. Run with the Alewives, the road race, will take place on Sunday morning at 8 just down the road from the fish house (see for more information and to sign up). This awesome race, for all ages with a special family rate, received high praise from participants last year. It’s sure to be popular again this year so sign up early. In addition, there will be an evening concert by well-known Boston band, the Chris Fitz Band, a talented, charismatic, and versatile group that have won numerous awards. The show will be held on Sunday evening at 7:30 at the Lincoln Theater (doors open at 6:30) and tickets, on sale at Alewife Fabrics in Damariscotta Mills, at Milling Around in Newcastle, and at the festival until they’re gone, are $25 each.

What’s the same in this year’s festival is great food! Each day a special menu will been prepared. On Saturday, we’ll be serving our famous pulled pork and (new) pulled chicken sandwiches. And, thanks to the Damariscotta River Grill, Liberal Cup, Oxbow, and Sheepscot Valley Brewing Co., you’ll be able to enjoy your pulled pork or chicken sandwich with a cold craft beer—while alewives swim by and osprey dive to catch their lunch. The food on Sunday will be equally special—we’ll be serving lobster and crab rolls with chips and a pickle---and perhaps another cold beer. We’ll also have hot dogs, veggie burgers, lots of local oysters, and ice cream on both days.

Mulligan’s smoked alewives--the best in the area—will be on sale all weekend at the smokehouse (across the road from the fish house) or until they run out. The “Smokehouse Girls” will be serving food on Saturday and Sunday this year—their famous breakfast sandwiches, and hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch, with all the fixins. On Sunday, Paula Roberts’ fabulous homemade donuts—plain, sugar, molasses, squash, and chocolate, will be on sale at the smokehouse—be sure not to miss them!

Children’s activities will be held near the fish house, on Ladds Hill Road and at Alewives Fabrics this year. Magician Evan Northrup will perform on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Ladds Hill Road, while the Faery Tail Puppets will present a special alewife puppet show accompanied by Julia Lane on the harp on the Alewife Fabrics lawn at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The puppet show will be followed by a performance by the Oyster Creek Fiddlers. The ever-popular osprey fishing game can again be played on Ladds Hill Road, while the Darling Marine Center will be showing plankton on a projecting microscope in the fish house on both Saturday and Sunday. There will be free face painting at Alewives Fabrics together with ice cream, soda, and viewing of video, “Closing the Circle.”

The festival is sponsored by the towns of Nobleboro and Newcastle and the Nobleboro Historical Society. Please join us for a wonderful festival and a chance to see alewives up close as they ascend the fish ladder to spawn in Damariscotta Lake. For additional information, please check out our website at or contact Deb Wilson at 380-6997 or or Russ Williams at 329-1161 or Hope to see you at the festival!