At one time Maine was a prosperous state thanks to lumber, textiles, boat building and fish packing. Those days are gone as one business after another has disappeared. A dwindling economy means that many of the small towns that define Maine are having to reinvent themselves to give folks opportunity to make a living. Two midcoast towns that have done just that are Belfast and Rockland.
Belfast once relied on chicken and sardine packing to provide its economy. Today, those businesses and the associated smells have been replaced with restaurants, galleries and retail shops.
For us, it is easy to go to Belfast on the boat which means a fun outing and a great way to entertain guests. Favorite stops are Chase’s Daily, a combination vegetarian restaurant and farmers market featuring flowers and produce brought in daily from the owner’s farm.
I stock up on those things, but my very favorite thing is the chocolate cherry cookies that are irresistible!
New on the scene since last year is a year round farmers market that sells everything from handmade goods to cheese to meats to produce. One can spend a couple of hours there browsing and snacking on Saturdays from 9 until 2.
Rockland has undergone a complete metamorphosis in recent years. When we started coming to Maine 26 years ago, we held our noses and quickly passed through. These days Rockland prides itself for being the state’s art capital.
It is home to the Farnsworth, one of the country’s best small art museums. It has an extensive collection of Maine related art, but the real draw is the work of the Wyeth’s: Andrew, N. C. and Jamie.
An exciting addition to the community is CMCA (Center for Maine Contemporary Art), formerly located in Rockport. Early on, some were concerned about its architectural style not complementing buildings dating back to the 1800’s, but that worry has dissipated and CMCA adds a vibrancy to the flourishing art scene.
As many charms as Maine has, the sad truth is that it is a poor state. So much of the economy depends on summer tourism, but aside from the coast there is not much to draw visitors. With dwindling opportunity, it becomes increasingly important for small towns to respond to changing times.
i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind