September 3, 2014

Pemaquid Oyster Festival Celebrates Half Shells and History

Oysters have been a food source and part of the local economy along the Damariscotta River for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The river’s deep, cold saltwater is ideal for growing the shelled delicacies.

Midcoast Maine celebrates the humble oyster each year during the Pemaquid Oyster Festival on the last Sunday of September. The 2014 festival will be held from noon to dusk September 28 at the Schooner Landing Restaurant and Marina in Damariscotta. The restaurant is right on the riverbank.

The festival is just one of many fall events to entice travelers to Maine, and Newcastle Inn is less than a mile from the restaurant and currently has rooms available.

The Damariscotta River produces some of the tastiest oysters in the northeastern U.S., and some call the region the oyster industry’s version of some of best wine-producing areas in France. Pemaquid and Glidden Point oysters are among the most well-known oysters grown here.

Rowan Jacobsen, author of The Oyster Guide, offers this description:

“Maine oysters grow slowly. While southern oysters can reach market size in a year or less, a Maine oyster needs three years minimum. A four-year-old, cold-water Maine oyster has a glorious depth of texture and flavor, a deep cup, and a beautiful green-and-white shell, sometimes edged with purple, that can be remarkably tough and hard-bitten, like Down Easters themselves.

“The Damariscotta River estuary, midway up the Maine coast, has been ground zero for oyster lovers for thousands of years. High up the estuary sits the Glidden Midden, an enormous hill of oyster shells dating back more than 2,000 years. The mound is thirty feet high, runs along the river for 150 feet, and contains some oyster shells a foot long.”

The Pemaquid Oyster Festival is a fundraiser for the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund. Myers was a pioneer in aquaculture in the Damariscotta river and other areas. The fund continues his vision of maintaining sustainable, working waterfronts as well as protecting the river environment. Along with Schooner Landing, the Pemaquid Oyster Co. is one of the sponsors of the festival.

Naturally, the festival includes plenty of fresh, local oysters, but there are other items on the menu for folks who haven’t acquired a taste for oysters. The festival also includes music and educational information about the marine environment and the oyster business.

The oyster festival is just one of many things to do and see in Maine during a fall vacation or a weekend trip. Late September is a great time to take in our fall foliage. Let the Newcastle Inn be your base for your next trip to Midcoast Maine.

August 26, 2014

Damariscotta Pumpkinfest: From Projectiles to Pies

No list of things to do in Maine is complete without including the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta, which occurs yearly on Columbus Day Weekend. The festival includes some unusual activities that make this event the Great Pumpkin of pumpkin festivals.

Of course there’s the usual parade, pumpkin dessert and pie-eating contest, music, street food and games for the youngsters. But there aren’t many (any?) pumpkin festivals that include pumpkins being shot from a cannon, pumpkins dropped from 180-foot high crane onto junked cars, and boat races featuring watercraft made from, uh, pumpkins.

The official dates for this year’s Pumpkinfest and Regatta are Oct. 10-13, so why not plan a visit and stay at the Newcastle Inn? We’re nearly booked for the weekend already. If you get your fill of pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cheesecake, you’ll be able to explore Midcoast Maine as fall colors cover our trees and forests.

The unofficial beginning of Pumpkinfest occurs the weekend before when pumpkin growers from all over come to town for the weigh-off. The bragging rights for the biggest pumpkins are great, but there are cash prizes totaling $10,000, too. With all of those huge pumpkins in town, the only thing to do is display them in front of our local businesses during the festival weekend. Festival-goers will be able to feast their eyes on all sorts of pumpkins decorated and painted by local artists.

There are many other events to keep visitors busy and entertained. Youngsters may enjoy a pumpkin hunt (think Easter eggs, only orange and a little larger). There’s a pumpkin derby to determine the fastest pumpkin on four wheels. You can catch a ride on the “Pumpkin Express” train between Brunswick and Rockland or participate in the YMCA Zombie Run on Saturday, Oct. 11.

The featured musical performer during Pumpkinfest will be The Peterson Project, and there will be appearances by the Horseshoe Crabs and the Wicked Blues Band. For complete details on all of the Pumpkinfest activities, visit the event website,

August 18, 2014

Celebrate Maine Life at Boothbay Harbor Fest

Mainers refuse to let the summer season end without throwing a party, and the seaside town of Boothbay Harbor hosts a great one starting Labor Day weekend and lasting 10 days.

The Boothbay Harbor Fest is a celebration of Maine food, Maine music and Maine spirit that includes an art show, a harbor crawl, a golf tournament, a chili and chowder challenge and a fashion show. All of action takes place about 15 miles south of the Newcastle Inn.
The fun starts Friday evening with the “Harbor Crawl” through the village shopping and restaurant district. Local shops will offer crawlers light snacks and beverages and maybe some discounts. A fireworks show follows the crawl.

The annual Chili & Chowder Challenge runs Friday evening through 10 p.m. Sunday. If you arrive at each of the 12 participating restaurants at the right time and with a ticket, you’ll get to taste their best offerings of chili and chowder.

The restaurant fun continues Monday through Friday with Restaurant Week. Participating restaurants will offer three-course dinner meals for $25 plus tax and gratuities.

Other events include the Art @ The Park art show on Saturday, a fishing fashion show Saturday, a 5K and half marathon race Sunday and a golf tournament Monday. The weekend will be full of live music featuring about 30 bands. There’s even a coloring contest for youngsters.

The full details and schedule for events is available on the Harbor Fest website,

August 12, 2014

Bristol Road Galleries - One Name, Four Artists

Just a 3-minute drive from Newcastle Inn are  The Bristol Road Galleries, a group of four galleries along Bristol Road in Damariscotta.
 As you drive south on Bristol Road from Damariscotta your first stop is Kefauver Studio & Gallery. Will Kefauver returned to oil paintings after many years as an illustrator, graphic designer, art director, and executive. His works depict the different moods and feelings of the landscapes and also his love for the rugged landscapes of Maine and New England. You can find Will either giving lessons to teens and adults in his studio or outdoors, where he gets most of his inspiration. Here are some of Will's paintings.
Just a short walk from Kefauver Studio & Gallery, you will find Jan Kilburn’s Gallery. Her watercolors and oil paintings depict the common and simple atmospheres of the seacoasts, villages, and gardens of Maine and New Hampshire. Her main joy is to paint within the environment, but she also offers lessons at her studio. Her use of bright colors brings these scenes to life with simple strokes of a brush to canvas.
The SinclairGallery, run by Marnie Sinclair, is across the street from the Jan Kilburn Gallery. Her main focus is in sculpture, but nowadays she is working to figure out the different sides to kinetic sculpture. Kinetic sculpture is a form of sculpture art that is a figure that moves naturally or with the help of a motor or the observer moving around the piece. Either the sculpture moves with help of the elements or it moves with the different perspectives of the piece itself. Marnie’s work is greatly influenced by her concern for the environment..
The last stop after The Sinclair Gallery is the Kathleen Horst Gallery. Kathleen, a watercolorist, focuses on landscapes and homes that are either Victorian mansions or seaside cottages. Since retiring as a high school teacher, Kathleen has had a lot of time to work on her watercolors. Using the inspiration of historical architecture as well as using vibrant colors, she can bring excitement and a dramatic feeling to scenes.
The Bristol Road Galleries bring a different variety of art from four very talented artists. These artists team together to not only share their artwork, but to bring inspiration to other potential artists and young people by offering classes. There are many events happening within the galleries all summer. For a list, visit
The hours varyfor the Bristol Road galleries, but the best times to plan visiting all of them are between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

August 5, 2014

Inn Is Near A Great 'Stable' of Artists

Art lovers vacationing in Midcoast Maine will appreciate The Stable Gallery at 26 Water Street in  Damariscotta. Located a mile from Newcastle Inn the Stable Gallery, so named because the Victorian-style building once housed a stable, still has stalls that now provide private space to the artists who display and sell their work. From paintings to furniture, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Many artists come to The Stable Gallery to share their work. Bev Walker, originally from Rangeley, Maine, moved to Michigan where she received a bachelor’s degree in design in 1974 and then later on received her master’s degree in Studio Art. She now paints wonderful oil paintings of landscapes and ocean views.

Joy Scott, originally from Greenwich Village, spent many years trying to find the right artistic niche and finally found inspiration in fused glass sculpture. She is currently part of Coastal Art Glass, where her husband Larry cuts pieces of glass that Joy turns into beautiful glass sculptures. You can read more about her art, her inspiration, and how she changed the world of glass sculpture on her website.

The Stable Gallery allows local artists to share their works in a common location. Some of the artists give monthly talks about their inspirations and perspectives for their work. The gallery describes its goal this way: “The goal of the gallery is to give the public a broad representation of the dynamic art community in the mid-coast and to assist artists in expanding their public exposure.”

The gallery also seeks to get artists out of their solitude and bring them into the public eye where they can hear public opinion and see the reactions to their art.
The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in mid-May to mid-October. For a schedule of artists’ talks, visit To see current updates you can also visit the Stable Gallery Facebook page.

July 22, 2014

Find Maine History, Great Views at Dodge Point in Newcastle

If you find yourself needing a peaceful walk during your Maine vacation at our bed & breakfast, try the trails at Dodge Point.

This beautiful land preserve along the Damariscotta River is just 3 miles south of the Newcastle Inn on River Road.

The property has some rich history and is important to the region’s ecology as well. It has more than 8,000 feet of shoreline along the Damariscotta River that includes pocket sand and pebble beaches, some great vistas,  freshwater ponds and stream-cut ravines.
The 508-acre peninsula’s ecology includes old growth trees and some critical plant communities. Native American shell heaps and the site of a brick-making operation from the late 1800s provide evidence of how humans have used the land. During the 19th century, about 200 people worked at some 30 brickyards in the area.
Dodge Point slopes gently from a height of 240 feet to the river. At some places, cliffs offer views several miles downriver.
Today the local economy relies on oyster farming along the lower river. Because Dodge Point remains undeveloped, the oyster farms benefit from the unpolluted runoff into the river, which keeps the water quality high.
Outdoor recreational activities at Dodge Point include hiking, cross-country skiing, skating, swimming and fishing.

Four loop trails cross the property. The Shore Trail is the longest at 2.8 miles. In summer, visitors can follow a self-guided tour by borrowing a “Discovery Trail map” from the kiosk. The map offers descriptions of 27 different plant species along the trails. During the winter, ice skaters use the pond.

The 1.2-mile Ravine Trail is steeper and more challenging. It’s not as crowded, and quiet hikers can often see fox, raccoon, squirrels, deer and an occasional moose.

The Land for Maine's Future Board acquired the Dodge Point property on behalf of the State of Maine from the Edward W. Freeman Trust in March 1989. The Damariscotta River Association and the Maine Coastal Program also pooled funds to acquire the land for future generations to enjoy.

There are no facilities at Dodge Point, and visitors are asked to follow a carry-in/carry-out policy. Open fires are not permitted, although self-contained camp stoves may be used for picnics.

July 15, 2014

Pemaquid Gallery Spreads The Word about Art

The Pemaquid Art Gallery, located on Pemaquid Point in Lighthouse Park in Bristol, has been showing art since 1928. The gallery features Maine artists, some of whom have national reputations. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from June to October. The best part is it is only 25 minutes away from Newcastle Inn.

This gallery’s main goal is to educate local residents and visitors about the importance of art and enhance the community of Bristol. The gallery is one of several highlights for Lighthouse Park visitors.

Will Kefauver is among the artists featured in the gallery. For the most part, Will draws inspiration from past memories of visiting places throughout his travels in New York and New England and wants to draw connections to the fond memories that he has experienced. He tries to draw out the mood of the landscapes that he is seeing through his work and uses his art to describe how the scenery is speaking to him.

Another featured artist, Judy Nixon, is originally from the Worcester, MA, area and moved to Maine in the mid ‘90s. Painting was just a hobby, but she took it more seriously after moving to Maine and being inspired by the coastlines, gardens, inland waterways, country fields, and quiet forests. Her paintings have been featured in the Bristol Public Library, Bremen Library, Boothbay Harbor Library and KeyBank in Boothbay Harbor.

The Pemaquid Art Gallery does a lot of work within the community to give back in the hopes that others will teach about the arts and why they are important. The gallery donates to local organizations to promote art education and has donated money to local schools. To learn more about the events and the other things the Pemaquid Art Gallery is doing to promote the arts and see some other the other artists featured, visit the gallery website.