Kennebunkport has been called a Presidential hideaway, a drinking village with a fishing problem, and party place for the swells in summer. Here on the stunning shores of the Atlantic A-listers hobnob with locals and lobstermen. It’s a fun place all year round, but the most festive time of year here is the annual Kennebunk Festival in June. It’s a grand week of parties, art, brews and tunes, galas, grand tastings and exclusive private dinners served at the finest homes and restaurants throughout Kennebunkport and Kennebunkport. What began a decade ago as the Kennebunkport Fine Food and Wine Fest has evolved to include beautiful local art, top Chefs from around Maine and New England, and the best bands and musicians all coming together in the seaside village to celebrate the best things in life.
The Kennebunkport Festival is organized and promoted by the staff at Maine Magazine and Maine Home and Design. The Festival is very much pay to play, with events priced from as low as $15 for Maine Craft Music Festival (Brews and Tunes), cocktail parties at $45, to as much as $250 for exclusive Chef dinners at private mansions on the beach, and Wood Fired Maine at Vinegar Hill Music Theatre. But the seaside settings are arguably priceless and a portion of the proceeds go to a local Maine charity – this year’s beneficiary is Full Plates Full Potential.
Some of the big parties at Kennebunkport Festival include the Friday night’s Spirit of Maine party hosted by Azalea Events under a big tent by the Kennebunk River behind the Pilot House. Past events, called The Pop the Kennebunks by Bettina of Cellardoor Winery, were lavish affairs with a live band, free flowing wine, chef raw bar and hors d’oeuvres all for $100 a pop with incredible themes of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Moulin Rouge, and Moroccan Marrakesh. This year’s Spirit of Maine party has an Amuse pre party aboard the Spirit of Massachusetts – a floating bar aboard a replica tallship schooner docked by the Pilot House.
Many find the private Festival dinners to be the best. These 20+ Art of Dining dinner parties include a Chef prepared multi course menu, themed for the evening and accompanied by an award-winning artist who is in attendance and displays his or her work in the selected home. Wine is paired with the Maine inspired meal, reflecting the theme. These Kennebunkport Festival dinner parties and Grand Cru evenings cost a $175 – $250 per person, but while you feast, you can feel good that there is a beneficiary – a Maine charitable organization committed to ending childhood hunger locally.
Before and after each dinner party and throughout the Kennebunkport Festival week, cocktail parties and after-parties are held at local bars like Kennebunkport Inn’s Burleigh, The Colony, and Old Vines Wine Bar. The pre-dinner cocktails parties feature wine, a signature cocktails, appetizers and local music at $45 a head, before you head off to your Art of Dining night, or head out on the town (or home if you aren’t a huge party animal). The Thursday cocktail party at Chick’s Marina hosted by Hinckley Yachts is a yachty classic, sipping drinks on the dock amid beautiful boats made in Maine’s Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island.
The final Saturday of the Festival is Maine Craft Music Fest, on the Village Green in front of Captain Lord Mansion. For a small entry fee, $15, you get to hear four or five live bands playing all afternoon, 1-5. Folks dance, there is a beer tent and food trucks offering drink and snacks for purchase. Another Saturday highlight is the Grand Tasting party under the tent in the afternoon, where all the invited chefs show off their culinary skills in tapas format with winee and cocktails to accompany, tickets are about $65 per person.
Saturday Night is the Grand Finale of the Kennebunkport Festival, a party at Davids KPT at the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel and Restaurant. An open bar, raw bar, Chef David’s buffet and passed hors d’oeuvres are included in the $150 price fixe, as folks enjoy the riverfront deck, drinking in the views and enjoy live music.
The Kennebunkport Festival event is perfect for those who love eating and drinking by the water, browsing beautiful artwork by local artists, chatting with locals and top chefs, art collectors and fellow foodies. Just remember, the best things in life are not free…well, the Kennebunkport Festival isn’t anyway. Get your tickets to the June 2018 Kennebunkport Festival, June 4-9, as soon as they go on sale in the spring since the best dinners sell out quickly. Some of the tickets go to Maine magazine folks, hosts and sponsors, leaving few seats for the rest.
See you at the Kennebunkport Festival, for fine food, art, drinks and dancing by the River.