Trap Day Oct. 1, farm/brewery/artist tours Oct. 2

Fall things to do: Monhegan Fall Abundance Festival

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 1:30pm

Story Location:
Monhegan, ME
United States

    MONHEGAN ISLAND — This under-the-radar weekday event is an ideal way for folks without a boat to explore the abundance of the sea, the land and the community of Monhegan Island for one or two days, while getting an up-close look at its self-sustaining artists, farmers, lobster fishermen — and even a brewer.

    Tara Hire, owner of a new business called Monhegan Wellness, is heading up the Fall Abundance Festival, which started Sept. 30.

    For those who need to take the ferry out of Port Clyde, the next two days, look to be the most interesting of the festival.

    Oct. 1

    The first day of October kicks off Monhegan Island’s annual Trap Day, in which the lobster fishing season officially begins and goes until June 7.

    Starting out of Port Clyde, The Monhegan Boat Line runs at 7 and 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., and takes approximately an hour to get to Monhegan Island. By the time folks get off the ferry, the lobstering has already gotten started, but there’s still plenty to see.

    At dawn, all of the lobster boats get loaded with traps, as captains and sternmen pace around anxious to start. Due to custom that goes back hundreds of years, no one can start until all of the captains are ready to go. The captains chatter on their radios to one another and once everyone is ready, they take off to their favorite fishing spots. Once off the ferry, folks will be able to observe the activity from Fish Beach, Swim Beach or near the Island Inn. The boats come back and forth into the dock several times each to get loaded up with traps before taking off again to set.

    “This is a pretty special day,” said Hire. “There’s a lot of activity and action.” She recommends that participants simply observe but don’t try to interact, as the lobstermen have an incredibly full day.

    There was a scheduled workshop for this afternoon, but according to Hire, it has been cancelled due to illness. She recommends staying at the Trailing Yew, which is working with the festival. Included with each person’s stay is a dinner supplied by the inn (highlighting lobster caught that day and other seafood) and a locally sourced breakfast the morning after. The Island Inn is also available for accommodations, but is not participating in the festival’s food themes.

    Oct. 2

    The festival’s focus this day is on the the Island Farm Project, Monhegan Brewing Co. and local artists and crafters.

    At 10 a.m. participants will be led on a tour of the Island Farm Project to learn about small plot farming and permaculture.

    “We’ll also harvest some vegetables, including the opportunity to harvest your own pumpkin,” said Hire. “As Monhegan doesn’t have an expanse of land, people have learned to farm on smaller plots all around the island.”

    Plot farming typically uses about 20- by 20-foot gardens using permaculture techniques.

    From 2 to 4 p.m., all of the artist studios and galleries as well as Winter Works will be open, allowing participants the time to visit all of the studios in one day. At 5 p.m., participants will be given a tour and tasting of the Monhegan Brewing Co. learning about the challenges of having a brewery 12 miles out to sea, as well as a tasting all of the beers on tap. Each participant will leave with a commemorative glass.

    Hire, who works on Monhegan year-round, has lived on the island for 10 years. Her husband was born and raised there. Her background is in nutrition and she wanted to start a festival that would allow people from the mainland and the island a few days to “acknowledge and show gratitude for the abundance.”

    Hire provided the following pricing information:

    $145 per guest for a one-night stay at the Training Yew (which includes the breakfast and special dinner)
    $20 per workshop (The first is the Island Farm Project Tour and the second is the Monhegan Brewing Co. Tour). The artist tour is free.
    $35 round trip for the ferry.

    For those who simply want to be part of Monhegan’s events for the next two days without staying overnight, the price would just include the ferry and the optional workshops. The ferry leaves Monhegan at 4:30 p.m. and arrives back at Port Clyde at 5:30 p.m.

    For more information, Hire can be reached at 594-0707 or visit

    Kay Stephens can be reached at