by Hollie McAfee

I grew up in the Houlton area and celebrated the 4th of July each year with the parade in the morning, followed by trips to the park for the Agricultural Fair, with giant hot sausages and amusement rides and the biggest fireworks show in Northern Maine. I assumed that if a small town like Houlton had a big party, that most of the towns and all of the cities in the country must do the same thing. When I moved away with my husband during his Navy enlistment, we had a really hard time finding fun things to do on the 4th of July. I’m glad we moved back home.

Although F.A. Peabody’s main office is in Houlton, we have branches in Hampden, Calais, Lincoln, Sherman, Mars Hill, Presque Isle and Caribou. People in all of these communities can find fun Independence Day activities not too far away.

Bangor’s Waterfront is a big attraction all summer with its concerts, but it’s also hosting a fireworks celebration on the night of the 4th. Bangor also has a pancake breakfast open to the community, and a traditional parade. Find out more about the festivities here.

The Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce in Millinocket touts its Independence Day activities on its Facebook Page. They also have a pancake breakfast, a kids’ bike parade, a traditional parade and fireworks.

Calais has a lot of kids’ activities in the morning, then, according to one of our employees in the Calais office, they all head over to Eastport. Eastport claims to have the biggest Independence Day celebration in the state, and from the looks of their schedule, they are right. I was skeptical at first because of the thousands of people who flock to Houlton each year, but an informal query on my Facebook page suggested many of my friends lean toward favoring Eastport. One of the comments said, “You can’t beat fireworks on the ocean.” The ocean is an advantage, for sure, especially when a battle ship comes into port. This year, the town will welcome the U.S.S. Anzio (CG-68) and her crew. They also have a sunrise flag raising, pancake breakfast, parade, and beautiful fireworks on the ocean.

My hometown certainly has the most going on in Aroostook County, and I look forward to it every year. It kicks off with Midnight Madness, where our downtown area is closed off to traffic, businesses stay open until Midnight with great deals, and the whole town comes out to shop and socialize. In recent years we’ve also had live music and fireworks over the walking bridge in Riverside Park. This year we are launching a social media campaign, #houltonmadness. Anyone who uses this hashtag will be in the running for prizes from area merchants. Use it on any social media platform, Twitter, Google#, Instagram, Pinterest…we’ll find you!

The Houlton Agricultural Fair is open for 4 days, with carnival rides and many activities, including crowd-drawing events like the mud runs and demolition derby. A parade through downtown takes place in the morning, and fireworks at the fair wrap up the days’ events. At first I thought we didn’t have a pancake breakfast like everyone else, but a quick tweet about it revealed that we do. Phew! Check out more here.

I probably neglected some really exciting stuff around the state, so feel free to call me out on that and have a great 4th of July!