20th Annual Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market

On July 6 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm the annual Native American Festival and Basketmakers Market will celebrate twenty years of a collaborative partnership between the Abbe Museum, the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) and the College of the Atlantic (COA). The festival itself began in 1989 at the Abbe and moved around to several locations in town before settling at COA. The new location on the ocean-front grounds of the college allowed the Festival to grow, with ample space for vendors and parking for many more guests. 
The Festival, which is free and open to the public, combines the art and craft market with music, dancing, and demonstrations.  The featured attraction is, unquestionably, the market which features basketmakers, representing all four tribes in Maine, the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot, collectively known as the Wabanaki.  Among this group are nationally renowned contemporary and traditional basket makers who travel to Bar Harbor to sell their work – drawing collectors from across the country.

Artists selling high quality baskets made from ash and sweetgrass, birch bark, and other traditional materials, as well as jewelry, musical instruments, and other crafts, gather to share their traditions, history, and culture with visitors.  Demonstrations include dancing, drumming, flute playing, and basketmaking, as well as ash pounding.

Girls dancing at the festival, photo by Anna Travers
MIBA has the lead role in organizing the Festival, and is responsible for bringing in dozens of new, “next generation” basketmakers and their families to the event.  Many of these talented basketmakers first got their start at the Festival twenty years ago.  These young artists include: George Neptune, Jeremy Frey, Sarah Sockbeson, Eric “Otter” Bacon and Ganessa Bryant.  These five artists were recently featured in an exhibit called: Transcending Traditions, which was created through collaboration between the Hudson Museum and MIBA and made possible by support from the National Museum of American Indian Indigenous Contemporary Art Program; it traveled to Bar Harbor in 2012 and was featured at the Abbe Museum.

Parking and public transportation are available, and the grounds of the College of the Atlantic are handicap accessible.  Visitors are encouraged to use the Island Explorer bus system which stops at COA.  In addition to the festival activities, this year a silent auction will feature works from Wabanaki artists.  Proceeds support the non-profit teaching and apprenticeship programs of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance. The festival is cosponsored by Art Works and the Bangor Daily News. We look forward to meeting you there!