FORT KENT, Maine — Nearly perfect weather greeted visitors to the Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Ploye Festival on Friday. With activities downtown and at Riverside Park, people had a variety of ways to enjoy the festival over the weekend, which coincided with the International Muskie Derby fishing competition.
On Friday, spectators witnessed the Bouchard Family Farm’s creation of the “World’s Largest Ploye.” Joey and Janice Bouchard, whose family farm grows the buckwheat and markets ready-made ploye mix throughout the country, brought in family and friends to help stir the batter and then pour it onto a large, homemade frying pan laid over hot coals.
“Oh, I think it will go well; but I’m here to make sure,” Joey’s father, Alban Bouchard, said with a laugh.
In a short time, the tasty and traditional Acadian treat was ready. Ployes are only cooked on one side, with no flipping required, which is a good thing for a ploye this large. The signature festival event ended with spectators lining up for pieces of ploye smothered in melted butter.
Visitors also could sample ployes throughout the weekend at different locations around town.
Youngsters who really enjoy ployes took part in the annual ploye eating contest earlier in the afternoon. Zach Collins, 8, took the top spot in the youngest category, plowing through seven ployes before time ran out.
Competitors were not given any butter, but they were provided water to help the ployes go down a little easier.
Zander Gallagher, 10, earned first place in the next age group by knocking down eight ployes.
“It was fun. I could have eaten some more,” he said.
The local American Legion post and Rotary Club also had food tents set up downtown. Whether it was hot dogs, lobster rolls or strawberry shortcake, visitors to the festival and derby were in no short supply of food.
Once again, deep-fried “ploye boys” were for sale. A local take on the dough boy, these crispy cousins are a unique treat for sure.
The Lions Pavilion at Riverside Park also played host over the weekend to a large arts and crafts fair. Local and regional vendors displayed and sold paintings, jewelry and handcrafted foods.
The park grounds were filled with people enjoying music at the gazebo, children playing and visitors catching up with friends.
Friday evening was topped off with a fireworks display after sunset. Organizers in Clair, New Brunswick, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary over the weekend, set off a colorful display that was reflected in the waters of the St. John River.