From Governor Janet Mills <[email protected]>
Subject Governor Mills Declares August 5–6 as Maine's Third Annual Wild Blueberry Weekend
Date July 27, 2023 5:02 PM
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Governor Mills Declares August 5?6 as Maine's Third Annual Wild Blueberry Weekend [ [link removed] ]
Governor Mills Declares August 5?6 as Maine's Third Annual Wild Blueberry Weekend July 27, 2023

With Maine?s wild blueberry harvest season now underway, Governor Janet Mills has declared August 5?6, 2023 as Maine's Third Annual Wild Blueberry Weekend.

The Governor announced the 2023 Wild Blueberry Weekend during a Blaine House celebration today, where she was joined by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal, Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine Director of Programs Jennifer Maskala, and Maine wild blueberry growers and processors.

Commissioner Amanda Beal, Kate McAleer of Bixby Chocolate, and Governor Janet Mills celebrate Maine wild blueberries at the Blaine House.

The event featured a tasting of fresh wild Maine blueberries and more than a dozen Maine wild blueberry-themed products, showcasing the bountiful harvest of these iconic berries. Maine produces nearly 100 percent of all wild blueberries in the United States. Last year alone, Maine farmers harvested 77.5 million pounds of wild blueberries.

?I am proud to declare the third annual Wild Blueberry Weekend in Maine," *said Governor Janet Mills*. ?I encourage everyone to visit one of the participating wild blueberry farms or to sample Maine-grown wild blueberry products at the many restaurants, ice cream shops, breweries, wineries, and distilleries selling them during Wild Blueberry Weekend. I know you?ll love it.?

Building on the success of the inaugural event in 2021, where wild blueberry growers opened their doors to the public for the first time to offer free access and a wide array of fresh wild blueberries, jams, pies, and other products for purchase, Wild Blueberry Weekend has continued to flourish. The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine reported thousands of dollars in direct farm sales and thousands of visitors who enjoyed touring the places where wild blueberries grow. In 2022, additional farms and businesses joined the weekend festivities, attracting more visitors and generating substantial direct farm sales.

?The success of Wild Blueberry Weekend over the past two years is a testament to the well-deserved support and appreciation for Maine's iconic berry,? *said Amanda Beal, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry*. ?We take great pride in supporting this tradition of Wild Blueberry Weekend and urge Maine's residents to venture out to the participating farms to taste and purchase berries and products while learning from growers and food producers.?

?After the tremendous success of our first events in 2021 and 2022, we are thrilled to continue this tradition for visitors,? said *Jennifer Maskala, Director of Programs **for the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine*. ?We hope that both Mainers and visitors take the opportunity to visit a farm and experience firsthand the wild blueberry fields. Our aim is to establish this event as an annual summer tradition eagerly anticipated by all.?

This year, Wild Blueberry Weekend will feature farm tours and other family-friendly activities at 15 different wild blueberry farms located in Franklin, Lincoln, Kennebec, Knox, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo, and Washington Counties, as well as the Wild Blueberry Heritage Center and Museum in Columbia Falls.Additionally, wild blueberry-themed menu items and products will be available throughout the weekend at nearly 40 statewide restaurants, ice cream shops, breweries, wineries, and distilleries. To see the full list of participants, visit [ [link removed] ]

?During Wild Blueberry Weekend, visitors to the participating farms will not only get to meet their local growers but also discover the unique qualities of wild blueberries that set them apart from ordinary blueberries,? *said Courtney Hammond, owner of **Lynch Hill Farms and Chair of the Fresh Pack and Value Added Committee.* ?Unlike ordinary blueberries, wild blueberries don't require planting; they naturally thrive and spread in the locations where Mother Nature has placed them. Each field contains thousands of genetically distinct varieties, and our responsibility as growers is to steward and care for them, ensuring people worldwide can savor their delectable taste and benefit from their healthful properties.?

Maine people and visitors can plan their family's weekend adventure by browsing the Wild Blueberry Weekend map [ [link removed] ] that highlights all participating farms and the more than 40 statewide restaurants, businesses, wineries, breweries, and eating establishments featuring wild blueberry-themed menu items during wild blueberry weekend. [ [link removed] ]


The text of the Governor's proclamation declaring August 5 and 6, 2023 the Third Annual Wild Blueberry Weekend is as follows:

*WHEREAS*, wild blueberries ("Vaccinium angustifolium") emerged on the rocky, acidic soils of the barrens of Maine following the retreat of the glaciers more than 10,000 years ago;

*WHEREAS*, wild blueberries, which are not planted but grow naturally, were first managed and harvested by the Wabanaki and are now grown by 485 Maine farms on 40,000 acres, primarily within Washington, Hancock, Knox, and Waldo counties; and

*WHEREAS*, Maine produces nearly 100% of all "wild "blueberries in the United States, and it is one of the top three specialty crops produced in the state; and

*WHEREAS*, Maine's wild blueberry growers and businesses are significant contributors to the Maine's economy and are vital to Maine's rural communities; and

*WHEREAS*, wild blueberries can be enjoyed fresh during the height of summer in Maine, while Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) technology allows consumers to buy berries frozen at the peak of freshness all year round, all over the world; and

*WHEREAS*, Maine wild blueberries are one of the world's top 10 superfoods, a deep blue fruit that is rich in antioxidants and health benefits; and

*WHEREAS*, wild blueberries are recognized as Maine's official state berry; and blueberry pie is recognized as the official State dessert; and

*WHEREAS*, the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine is, in this year of 2023, organizing the third annual Wild Blueberry Weekend to encourage residents and visitors to visit wild blueberry farms and participating establishments and eat, drink, and experience the fruit and the landscape where wild blueberries grow;

Now, THEREFORE, be it resolved that I, Janet T. Mills, Governor of the State of Maine, do hereby proclaim the weekend of August 5 and August 6, 2023, as

*Wild Blueberry Weekend*

in Maine, and I encourage all people to recognize the vital contributions made by the State's wild blueberry growers and businesses to our economy, and to participate in activities that celebrate and honor the Maine blueberry.

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