Guilford awarded $30K grant for rebranding and marketing Piscataquis River Festival
GUILFORD — For two decades the town of Guilford has celebrated the middle of summer with the Piscataquis River Festival on the last Saturday of July. The festival includes a variety of activities and events, including a parade, live music performances, local food vendors, craft vendors, and a rubber duck river race.
To help support the rebranding and marketing of the 2024 Piscataquis River Festival, Guilford has been awarded a $30,000 Tourism Enterprise Marketing Grant which was written and submitted by the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council. The funds come from the Maine Tourism Marketing Partnership Program.
“Ongoing since 2004, the Piscataquis River Festival grew out of a sense of pride in our town and its resources, the Piscataquis River in particular, and from a need to celebrate that pride no matter how trying the times may be,” Guilford Town Manager Johanna Turner said in a letter to the grant review committee. “It initially served to pull groups, clubs, individuals, and the population of the immediate region together in a festive atmosphere where worries could wait for another day. Since then, it continues to be a joyous occasion where friends meet, former acquaintances are renewed, old stories are remembered and retold, and everyone enjoys the sights and sounds of a wonderful parade, varied offerings from both food and craft vendors, and musical performances from well-known musicians.”
Turner said as the town looks to the future, there is an opportunity to rebrand the festival, grow tourism and attract folks from hours away to show them what Guilford and the surrounding area has to offer all year long.
“We want to use the festival as an introduction to activities such as nature-based tourism initiatives, the Guilford River Walk, motorized trail access for snowmobiling and ATV’s, ample waterways for kayaking and fishing, vast woods for hunting, the list goes on,” Turner said. “We understand that a brand must be built on feasibility, not just local sentiment. Typically, the most feasible brand direction is built on a foundation already there. In the case of Guilford, that foundation is the Piscataquis River Festival, with the energy and commitment of Guilford’s residents, the town, and the recreational resources. Now it’s time to take the Piscataquis River Festival to the next level – a town-wide festival.”
The letter says plans call to add high quality vendors who specialize in Maine made crafts, local artisans who will do on site demonstrations of their work in progress, musicians from throughout Maine, and event organizers want to include a schedule of experiential demonstrations, add more activities that focus on the Piscataquis River as a recreational opportunity, and invite area businesses to offer a schedule of events or activities at their businesses to draw attendees throughout the community.
“The town of Guilford is committed to making the River Festival an even bigger and better event,” Turner said. “With its stunning natural setting and vibrant community spirit, the festival is poised to become a major draw for tourists seeking a unique and memorable experience.”
The Maine Tourism Marketing Partnership Program was created to assist with the implementation of marketing programs designed to stimulate and expand Maine’s travel and tourism economy by coordinating the promotional efforts of the private sector with those of the Maine Office of Tourism and its eight designated tourism regions – including the Maine Highlands. Projects must be aligned with and support the MOT’s Destination Management Plan & Stewardship Principles. Qualifying organizations must be a Maine non-profit organization, municipality, or tribal government.
The Enterprise Marketing Grant supports tourism marketing initiatives that will increase visitation to the applying destination. The primary goal of the grant is to support marketing efforts that help move organizations toward sustainable growth that contributes to the overall advancement of the tourism economy in Maine. Tourism Enterprise Marketing Grant applications are accepted for a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $30,000.