Land, sky and water trails trace 15th annual Thoreau Wabanaki Festival

GREENVILLE — The 15th annual Thoreau Wabanaki Trail Festival takes place Wednesday  through Monday, July 21-26, and, like its name-sake, programs trace different locations across  land, sky and water for different experiences. Home base is the Moosehead Cultural Heritage  Center (The Center for Moosehead History) 6 Lakeview Street, East Cove in downtown.

For particulars, contact the Moosehead Historical Society, 207-695-2909, or check the website at Cost is $5 per program, except for the Penobscot guided cultural heritage trip over the weekend.  

“All About Moose” leads the trail Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m., with Maine moose expert Lee  Kantar, national award recipient for his ground-breaking study on the area’s moose. A great  concern these days has been about the health and well-being of our No. 1 great mammal, the largest population in the states outside of Alaska. Everyone wants to see a moose! Come hear  about how the moose are faring, the fall hunt and the life of moose in the north Maine woods  from the best authority in the state. Outdoorsman and Greenville native Eric Ward will  demonstrate the art calling in a moose.  

Come find out first-hand about the Native American legend of Mt. Kineo, and how moose are part of a creation story in “Penobscot Sense of Place” with James E. Francis, Sr.,  director of the Penobscot Nation’s Cultural and Historic Preservation Dept. Francis traces the origin of Native geographic place names in Maine, including throughout the Moosehead Lake region, their meaning in Penobscot lore and legend and home ties to these woods and ancient waterways. A dynamic speaker, at once funny and informative, he also brings to light Thoreau’s  life-long relationship to Indian culture, now universally quoted in today’s general public. “Place” is Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at the Heritage Center.  

Thursday morning astronomer John Meader of Northern Stars Planetarium, provides a  kid-friendly interactive “Modeling of the Solar System.” This educational modeling of the  planetary trail begins at 9:30 am, outside at the Greenville Consolidated School, 130 Pritham Avenue.

“Night Sky Tour” is a magical dark-time look at the Milky Way, constellations and star  identification, led by Mr. Meader at Lily Bay State Park, from 10 p.m. to midnight. Participants  must pre-register for this. The wonder of Moosehead’s darkness, lit only by star-strewn trails  across the sky, is rare in many places in the U.S. now and one of the most celebrated phenomena  in the region today. Come see why! 

“Nature Walk in the Woods,” opens Friday morning, 9:30 a.m., with the Moosehead area’s own expert naturalist Alexandra Conover Bennett. We meet at the Moosehead Visitor Center,  480 Moosehead Lake Road (Rte. 15) to follow a nearby trail through the woods. Bennett will  identify what we see on the woodland ground, leading in her expert knowledge of northern Maine’s plants and animals, as did Penobscot guides to Thoreau during his trips.

In “Ungava Trek” Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., Bennett provides the remarkable story  of an extraordinary winter journey she took through the wilderness of the northwestern territory  of Canada near Labrador, the hardships, friendships and raw beauty she found there.

The festival closes with “Thoreau’s Last Leg with Penobscot Guide Joe Polis,” in a  three-day cultural immersion canoe camping trip that traces the final section of the author’s 1857 trip, which ended at Indian Island in Old Town. This modern-day journey is also led by Penobscot guides, only 164 years later. The weekend is spent learning first-hand about traditional  Wabanaki ways and arts and the Penobscot stories and symbolism behind them. 

This was sold out. Due to an emergency cancellation there are now two openings available. Cost is $300 per person.To book, call 207-695-2909.

The Thoreau Wabanaki Trail Festival is made in partnership with the Penobscot Nation;  Maine Woods Forever; Lily Bay State Park, Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry;  Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife; Greenville’s Natural Resource Education Center; and  Greenville Consolidated School. This year’s festival is made possible in large part through the generous contribution of founder Maine Woods Forever, and through a grant awarded the  Moosehead Historical Society by the Maine Arts Commission on behalf of the State of Maine’s  Bicentennial celebration.

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