If fresh lobsters, picture-perfect scenery, historic lighthouses, romantic bed and breakfasts and chance sightings of moose aren't enough of an incentive to visit Maine this summer, perhaps the lure of Maine's biggest export will seal the deal. Blueberry season is almost upon us and Maine is the blueberry capital of the country. Summer sees fields and hedgerows crawling with red and purple, and visitors have plenty of opportunities to visit farms to pick and eat at will. Raspberries are also abundant and many farms will have cherries and strawberries to mix it up a bit. So grab a bucket or two, a rake, plus a wide-brimmed sun hat and visit one of the dozens of farms that opens its fields to amateur pickers (and eaters) each year.
Wilton Blueberry Farm (tel. 207/645-2128; www.wiltonblueberryfarm.com) in Wilton, Franklin County is in the western foothills of Maine. The farm has daily picking sessions from mid-July to late September, plus Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Pick your own for $1.40 a pound. Driving directions are provided on the farm's website.
Crabtree's Blueberries (tel. 207/787-2730; www.crabcoll.com) is located just west of Sebago near Sebago Lake and the Maine/New Hampshire border in Cumberland County. The farm is open mid-July through the end of August on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. They charge $1.50 per pound for picking your own berries.
Beddington Ridge Farm (tel. 207/638-2664; www.geocities.com/beddingtonridgefarm) in Washington County is a small family-run property that offers visitors a chance to indulge in wild blueberries with the main picking season starting in late July and extending through August and September. Call ahead for details.
Circle B Farms (tel. 207/498-8238; www.circlebfarmsinc.com) in Caribou, Aroostock County is open daily from August 1 through September 30. Apart from an abundance of blueberries, the farm also grows garlic, cherries, elderberries, winter squash, turnips and peas. The farms boasts eight varieties of blueberries -- some as big as a quarter, but most the size of a nickel, with bushes growing three to six feet tall for easy access.
Certain farms are certified organic so for the really pure stuff, visit Peace and Plenty Farm (tel. 207/639-5550; www.organicblueberry.com) in Phillips, Franklin County, Oakhill Alpaca Ranch (tel. 207/793-3414; www.oakhill-ranch.com) in Shapleigh, York County and Staples Homestead (tel. 207/567-3393) in Stockton Springs, Waldo County.
If picking isn't your thing but you still want to enjoy the eating, the 25th annual Wilton Blueberry Festival will be held on August 3 to 4, 2007. The Festival offers blueberry pancakes, a parade, firemen's muster, boat tours, chicken barbeques, blueberry shortcakes and pies, yard sales, sidewalk craft, road races, fireworks and more.
The Winslow Blueberry Festival (207/872-2544) runs on the second weekend of August in 2007. The annual festival has taken place for more than 30 years and features a blueberry pancake breakfast (topped and stuffed with farm fresh berries), pie sales, children's games, raffles, crafts and live blues and jazz performances.
Rangeley Blueberry Festival will be held on August 16, 2007 offering blueberry jams, muffins, pies, gifts and crafts plus special entertainment for children. For a more concise list of all summer events and festivals in Maine (there are several hundred) visit www.maine.info/festivals or search on Frommmers.com's Maine events page.
Because you can pick berries in almost every part of the state, your accommodation options will be equally open. In the northern-most Aroostook County, the Old Iron Inn (tel. 207/492-4766; www.oldironinn.com) is a four-room Bed and Breakfast, plus a separate cottage and suites located in Caribou. Room rates start at a very low $55 plus tax per night for two and include a home-cooked breakfast. Three blueberry farms are located nearby -- including Circle B outlined above.
In the western most Lakes and Mountain region, near the New Hampshire border you'll find at least six blueberry farms and the Admiral Peary House (tel. 877/423-6779; www.admiralpearyhouse.com) Bed and Breakfast in Fryeburg. There are seven tastefully decorated rooms priced from $119 per night plus tax and the hotel is the former home of arctic explorer, Admiral Robert E. Peary, who discovered the North Pole in 1909. Breakfasts here are especially bountiful and feature dishes like ginger pancakes with pear sauce, traditional scones, Maine Blueberry muffins (prepared with blueberries grown on the property) and prosciutto frittata.
It's only appropriate that we include Blackberry Inn (tel. 800/388-6000; www.blackberryinn.com), a beautiful Victorian Bed and Breakfast located a few blocks from the harbor in Camden on Maine's mid-coast. With 11 well-appointed guest rooms with private baths and amenities like wood burning fireplaces and whirlpool tubs, it is an inviting property oozing 19th century charm. Gourmet breakfasts include specialties like apricot crunch toast, brie and pesto soufflé or blintzes with blackberry Sauce, served in the formal dinning room or in the courtyard. High season rates start from $139 per night plus tax (low season prices start from $99) and two blueberry farms are located nearby.
For listings of 32 different Maine blackberry farms, including their operating hours, visit www.getrealmaine.com. Not sure what to do with your blueberries when you get home. Get tips and inspiration as well as nutritional information from the U.S. Highbush Blackberry Council at www.blueberry.org.
Talk with other travelers and berry-pickers on our Maine Message Boards today.