A woman in pick pours a sample of wine
Kate Sloat, right, pours a wine sample as Richard Sloat, center, and Wayne Tibbetts look on during Houlton's 2019 Blackfly Brewfest. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

HOULTON, Maine – Craft beverage lovers, rejoice — after three cancellations, the popular Blackfly Brewfest will return to Houlton with vendors from all over Maine.

The event was postponed in 2020 and canceled in both spring and fall of 2021 because of concerns about COVID-19.

Organizers of the 2022 Blackfly Brewfest, slated from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, at Houlton’s John A. Millar Civic Center, are hoping the fourth time will be the charm. The event will spotlight 14 breweries, two wineries and, for the first time in the history of the festival, a distillery: Mossy Ledge Spirits from Etna.

“This is the first time we have had a distillery come and we are excited by this,” said Jane Torres, executive director of the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce. 

Beer vendors are Cushnoc Brewing Company of Augusta, Waterman’s Beach Brewery of South Thomaston, Threshers Brewing of Searsmont, Bigelow Brewing of Skowhegan, First Mile Brewing of Fort Kent, Penobscot Bay Brewery of Winterport, Marsh Island Brewing of Orono and Geaghan’s Brewery of Bangor.

Hidden Spring Winery of Hodgdon and Winterport Winery of Winterport will also be in attendance with wine samples.

Back in 2019, the last time the event was held, 500 beer and wine lovers came out to sample flavors from 21 featured breweries. 

“It was a bit harder to get brewers to commit this year,” Torres said, citing changes in the way brewers conduct their business and a shortage of employees as contributing factors.

The first festival was held in 2016.

Torres said organizers are excited about this year’s event, since people were not comfortable gathering inside last year. 

Planners thought they had come up with an ingenious way to hold the event outside this spring at Hidden Springs Winery in Hodgdon, complete with a tent. That idea, however, got shut down when members of the Hodgdon Board of Selectmen rejected the application to host the event.

Faced with few options, they reverted to the Millar Civic Center, and the Houlton Town Council willingly approved the application, Torres said.

Food items will also be available for purchase and water stations will be plentiful.

Tickets for the Blackfly Brewfest are $35 for general admission and $50 for a VIP pass. A $10 designated driver ticket is also available. Tickets can be purchased online at blackflybrewfest.com/ or by calling the chamber at 207-532-4216.