Aroostook County celebrates all things fiddlehead May 22 with The County's Fiddlehead Festival in Presque Isle. (Courtesy Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization)
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After a long cold winter, complicated by pandemic quarantines and precautions, one of the surest signs of springs are the vendors selling freshly picked fiddleheads along roadsides throughout The County. 

Fiddleheads are a favorite summer treat here in the north, and this year, the city of Presque Isle is taking fiddleheads a step further with the first-ever County Fiddlehead Festival on May 22.  

A variety of events and activities are scheduled, including opportunities to harvest fiddleheads, the opening of the Presque Isle Farmers Market, and more that is sure to produce a day of fun. The day-long event is a collaboration between Presque Isle’s Downtown Revitalization Committee and other community groups to bring folks out to enjoy and participate in one of the oldest traditions in The County: searching out and picking fiddleheads.  

The event begins at 8 a.m. with a Fiddlehead Cooking Competition at Northern Maine Community College’s new kitchen, giving both novice and accomplished chefs a chance to show off their fiddlehead skills and recipes. The competition runs until 3 p.m., with various times set aside for judging. If you’d like to try your hand you can sign up at [email protected] or visit the Presque Isle Downtown Revitalization Facebook page for a registration form.

The popular Presque Isle Farmer’s Market at Riverside Park opens its season at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m. with farmers, artists, and craftspeople offering fresh local produce, jams and jellies, syrups, and much more. 

There are also two sessions scheduled for people to learn about and pick fiddleheads; be prepared to get at least your hands muddy – and maybe more. The first session runs from 9 a.m.-noon, and the second is from 1-4 p.m. They’re the perfect opportunity to learn how to identify and pick fiddleheads. (Location details are still being determined.)  

At 9 a.m., the first Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce Spring Craft Fair opens at the former Kmart in the Aroostook Centre Mall. The fair runs until 4 p.m. with more than 100 vendors and crafters offering their wares and creations that include locally roasted and ground coffee, other food products, and a wide variety of arts and crafts.   

The Miss Northern Maine Pageant, with categories from age 1 to over 30, also at the Aroostook Centre Mall, begins at noon and runs until winners have been determined in the nine age groups. 

The day wraps up where it began at Riverside Park from 5-8 p.m. with Star City Syndicate, one of the most often-requested bands in Presque Isle’s Rockin’ on Riverside summer concert series. 

So if you’re looking to get out to the country, actually The County, for a day full of indoor and outdoor fun, think about heading to Presque Isle’s Fiddlehead Festival.

Jan Grieco is a retired college instructor and former newspaper reporter. She lives in Perham, where she farms and lives off the land.

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