Mike and Jessica Craig take in the annular eclipse of the sun Thursday morning June 10, 2021, on Portland's Eastern Prom. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

HOULTON, Maine — It may be two years away, but town officials are planning what they hope to be a major attraction for Houlton.

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will pass across the United States, ending in Maine. Houlton is designated as one of the sites where you can view the total eclipse, as well as the last spot in the continental United States to witness the event.

In order to capitalize on this event, and draw as many people to the Shiretown as possible, officials are working with the Southern Aroostook Development Corp.’s Attraction Committee to determine the best way to celebrate this natural phenomenon.

“This is an amazing opportunity to showcase our town and region to thousands of people,” said Nancy Ketch, Houlton’s community development director.

The centerline of the eclipse will enter Maine at about 2:18 p.m. EDT on April 8, 2024, with totality beginning at about 3:28 p.m., according to National Eclipse.

“The path travels through the dense western forests of Maine, arguably the most remote region of land along the entire eclipse track in the U.S.,” the website said.

The centerline of the eclipse will exit the state, and the U.S., as it crosses the U.S.-Canada border at approximately 4:40 p.m., with totality coming to an end in that location at about 3:35 p.m.

Maine experienced a partial solar eclipse in 2021. The 2024 event will be a complete eclipse lasting for a much longer duration. The last time a total solar eclipse occurred was in 2017.

That event affected a number of communities along the path of totality, according to Ketch.  Those towns experienced a massive visitor surge with some communities welcoming up to 100,000 people.

“Houlton is known for holding great events and the Eclipse 2024 will make our community the ‘must-be’ destination,” said Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jane Torres. The committee is planning for a multi-day extravaganza surrounding the eclipse, she said.  

F.A. Peabody Co. has signed on as a corporate sponsor for the event.

The Attraction Committee is developing additional sponsorships and will make them available in the next few weeks. Opportunities for people to get involved in the event planning will soon be announced.

The town of Millinocket is also getting into the fun with a “Millinockeclipse” road race, timed to take place during the eclipse.

Additional information on Eclipse 2024 and the local plans are available by contacting SADC Jon McLaughlin at 207-521-0157, Torres at 207-532-4216 or Ketch at 207-521-5938.