Machias Wild Blueberry Festival

Hi. Barb here.

Blueberrry mojitos

Blueberry mojitos at Helen's in Machias--because, why the heck not?

I spent the weekend at the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival. It seems like a crazy thing to do with a book due in two weeks, but I had some research to complete. In Boiled Over, the second book in my Maine Clambake Mystery series, my protagonist travels to the blueberry barrens of Washington county during picking season–and I’d never made the trip myself.

One of the challenges of writing a series is timing. I finished the last book in November, so I was writing this one mostly over the winter. I did as much research as I could on the internet and in books, and dredged what I could from memories of trips up US Route 1, in order to complete the first draft. But I didn’t feel at all confident, and it came through in the writing.

Then this weekend, the only weekend all summer I could have possibly gone, and in the middle of the blueberry harvest–The Machias Wild Blueberry Festival. I had to go.

And I’m so glad I did–even though it means the next two weeks will be a crazed whirlwind of rewrites.

Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls, Maine was built by Dell Emerson, a farmer who worked at UMaine's wild blueberry research farm and his wife, Marie also an educator and a chef. You must go there.


The weekend was absolutely gorgeous. Perfect weather.

Centre Street Congregational Church, Machias, ME

Centre Street Congregational Church, Machias--one of the event co-sponsors

The-blueberry pie eating contest. I was not surprised when the kid at number 5 won. His nickname is Moose. (At least I hope it's a nickname.)

Welch farm, Roque Bluffs, ME

The festival includes the option of a tour of Welch Farm in nearby Roque Bluffs. Lisa Hanscom and her father Wayne gave a fabulous tour. The next day Lisa's sister Chandra answered even more questions.


Of course, I realize some Maine Crime Writers have forgotten more about blueberry farming than those of us From Away will ever learn. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, we have a former Blueberry Queen among us.

Maine Wild Blueberries

Maine Wild Blueberries


blueberry pie

Blueberry cream pie from Helen's, which is basically, pie shell, uncooked blueberries, whipped cream, because again, why not?

I didn’t learn anything that would cause massive rewrites, but I would’ve gotten several small things wrong. I had to pass huge No Trespassing signs to see the migrant worker camp where my protagonist has an important meeting. Fortunately, my husband was along to give me courage. “Man, you’d make some detective,” he said in the face of my wimpiness. Which helped me understand how scared my protagonist is when she approaches the camp.

So all and all, good trip. I totally recommend it. Except the trespassing part.

About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at
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10 Responses to Machias Wild Blueberry Festival

  1. Gram says:


  2. Lea Wait says:

    Research is one of the best parts of writing! Sounds like a great (and informative) trip!

  3. Suzanne McGuffey says:

    May all of us have such arduous research ahead! 😉

  4. Cynthia Blain says:

    Went to the blueberry festival in Machias many years ago and it was a lot of fun. Still crave the wild berries too as they are soooooo much tastier than others are, and we try to get some jam/preserves and other items when we go up North each summer just to keep us happy during the year.

    Glad that you got to do your “research” and taste the local offerings. Sounds good to me now that lunch time is approaching. 🙂

    Looking forward to your next book. Love your series.


  5. John Clark says:

    A former Blueberry Queen, a designer of a t-shirt for the Maine Blueberry Festival and a couple of bloggers who made back to school clothing money raking blueberries. Not a job for the faint of heart. After day one you would do ANYTHING for a new back. and we won’t mention field spiders and ground wasps.

    • Barb Ross says:

      Back-breaking work. Most of the blueberries at Welch farm that went to the processors for freezing were mechanically harvested. But the fresh pack they sold at the farm stand was still hand-picked.

  6. Lisa Philpott says:

    Sounds like a berry, berry fun weekend!

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