Ocean views, cocktails, art, brews and tunes, served at the finest homes in Kennebunkport – those are ingredients to the best food & wine festival in Maine. Now in its 10th year, the Kennebunkport Festival is the first week of June in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, June 4-9, 2018. If you love food, wine, art and ocean views, you will love this fest. Originally called the Fine Food Wine and Art Festival, it is now called the Kennebunkport Festival – organized and promoted by the staff at Maine Magazine and Maine Home and Design.
What’s not to love about a week-long Kennebunkport event of eating and drinking by the Kennebunk River, browsing beautiful artwork by local artists, hobnobbing with local residents and top chefs, art collectors and foodies from away? Sign me up, right?! Hold on to your wallet though – the best festivals in life are not free…well, the Kennebunkport Festival isn’t anyway.
It’s pay to play festival, with events anywhere from as low as $20 (Brews and Tunes) to as much as $195 (Chef’s Grand Cru dinner). But the settings are arguably priceless! By the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, Maine’s best chefs show off their culinary skills while you sip cocktails and converse in fabulous seaside homes opened up for you and a few other special guests. These Art of Dining dinner parties serve a multi course menu while an award-winning artist features their work – all of which is themed for the evening. Wine is paired with the Maine inspired meal, reflecting the artwork and the design and decor of each of the selected mansions. These Kennebunkport Festival dinner parties and Grand Cru evenings cost a pretty penny to attend – $150 – $250 per person, but while you feast, you can feel good that some of the proceeds benefit Share Our Strength – 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 The Colony, The Burleigh, Stripers and Old Vines Wine Bar. The pre dinner cocktails parties feature wine, 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). One of the most posh is at Kennebunkport Marina – The Hinckley cocktail party has guests enjoying hors d’oeuvres and drinks while viewing the latest Hinckley yachts on the docks. These beautiful boats are made in Maine’s Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island.
Other fun Kennebunkport Festival events are the Thursday night Pop the Kenenbunks, where Cellardoor Winery owner Bettina produces a theatrical cocktail party under a big tent by the Kennebunk River right behind the Pilot House. The Pop the Kennebunks night features a live band, free flowing wine, chef created raw bar and hors d’ouevres, with decorations that transform the big top tent to such inspirations as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Moulin Rouge. This year’s Pop the Kennebunk’s is themed “A Night in Morrocca Marrakesh” – at $175 a pop!
Throughout the week, Art Gallery cocktails parties and reception are hosted at Maine Art and The Gallery at the Grand, CA Smith Photography, River Tree Arts, and other art galleries and boutiques in Kennebunkport.
Saturday is the grand finale day of Kennebunkport’s Festival, The Grand Tapas Party is held during the day under the festival tent, where participating chefs pull out their show stopper tapas plate with wine accompaniments – $75 per person. A more casual Saturday afternoon gathering is Brews and Tunes for $20 bucks, where beer and music lovers gather on the Green in front of the Captain Lord Mansion for a lineup of Maine bands. Dancing and drinking local beer (available for sale in the beer tent) is encouraged. Food trucks from all around Maine line The Green so you can snack on a la cart foods for purchase during the Brews and Tunes afternoon by the River. The big Kennebunkport Festival finale is Saturday evening. Two bands play while guests mingle and marvel at the beautiful food from Portland Maine’s top chef David Turin. A raw bar on the deck by the River is a crowd pleaser, as is the open bar and the big band that plays well into the evening.
See you at the Kennebunkport Festival 2018, June 4-9, I’ll be the one looking fabulous, drink in hand, looking out at the water, wondering what chef treat to indulge in next, while listening to the music and chatting with my friends – old and new. Cheers!
Some of the best chefs from Maine and International culinary talent at the Kennebunkport Festival:
Christopher Bassett, Azure Café
Mark Gaier & Clark Frasier of MC Perkins Cove, Ogunquit
Norm Herbert of Bintliff’s, Ogunquit
Brendan Levin of the Wayfarer, Kennebunkport
Steve True of Nonantum Resort – voted Maine’s Best Chef 2014 by Maine Restaurant Association
Brian and Shannon O’ Hea of The Kennebunk Inn,
Kristin Simmons Custom Cakes and Pastries
Shannon Bard of Zapoteca
Jeff Buerhaus of Walter’s, Portland
Mel Chaiken of the Fiddlehead Restaurant, Bangor
Chad Conley & Greg Mitchell of Palace Diner, Biddeford
David Connelly & Francesca Bowman of Old Port Seagrill, Portland
Fred Eliot of Petite Jaqueline, Portland
Abby Harmon and Nick Ryder of Caiola’s, Portland
Guy Hernandez, formerly of Bar Lola, Portland
Josh Hixson of 40 Paper, Camden and 3Crow
Scott Lee of Bandaloop, Kennebunkport
Harding Lee Smith of The Grill Room, Oyster Room, and Corner Room Restaurants, Portland
Jason Paul of The Gothic, Belfast
Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez of Piccolo and Blue Rooster, Portland
John Shaw of the The Tides Beach Club, Kennebunkport
Lee Skawinski of Vignola Cinque Terre, Portland
Cara Stadler of Tao Yuan, Brunswick
Jay Villani of Sonny’s, Local 188