Tips and advice for surviving and/or enjoying Old Port Fest 2015

The weekend of the Old Port Festival is upon us.

Last year, when experiencing the festival by way of observing it through the lens of Instagram—which is my go-to mode for living life these days—I decided to no longer hate the annual street spectacle anymore. I had long held the festival to an unrealistic standard, and wanted for it to be more than the drunken, moderately overpriced tourist magnet of a bonanza it is, but you know what? That’s unfair.

I’m in my 30s and have been in enough relationships to know how important it is to love someone for what they are rather than for what you want them to be, and the Old Port Festival is a drunk dummy who can actually be a lot of fun if you don’t over think it.

I reached out to the people via social media to find out what advice / insights folks had for enjoying the event this year, which I have synthesized here:



  • “Take it for what it is,” says Pete Bissell: “Don’t analyze or over-think. Families should go see Rick Charette and get an Italian sausage and a ride on the micro roller coaster. Young adults should get super faded by 1pm at your one friend’s apartment who lives downtown. Bar and restaurant employees make a shit ton of money. If you’re not one of those three groups, don’t go. The writing is on the wall as to what this festival is.”
  • “Just go and have a good time,” says Andy Verzosa: “The parade Nancy Parker does is the best. It’s been going on since the early to mid 1970’s. If your from around Portland it is fun to reconnect with folks… I love it.


  • Seriously. Of the festival, last year Prof. Jason Read wrote, “Old Port Fest is like a street theater PSA for sunblock.” It’s supposed to be very sunny, so make sure you drink a lot of water, and bring water with you so you don’t pay out of your ass for it. Water from your faucet that you bring with you in a container costs less than a penny. And wear sunscreen! It not only saves you from cancer; it protects your skin from premature aging.
  • SIDE NOTE: When was the last time you listened to “Wear Sunscreen?” It felt to over-played and kitchey in the 90s, but I recently heard it again for the first time in well over a decade and maybe it’s because I’m a lot older, but the advice contained within is so good.


  • Go to Mathew’s. I saw this advice again and again and again from all of my friends and peers who know way more about local music than I do. Specifically from Jon Courtney: “Go to Mathew’s. Watch a trillion local bands on the roof deck and drink cheap beer.”
  • See Spose. Spose weighs in: “Show up, watch Spose, feel better about your future, go home before you get stabbed by a frat boy’s cousin from Massachusetts who came up for Old Port Fest Spose.”
  • Check the After Show. Lara Sullivan says to check out the Mallett Brother Band at House of Music.
  • Enjoy the DJs at the Thirsty Pig. Che, one of said DJs, says that the DJs at the thirsty pig will surely be the best musical entertainment of the fest.
  • Check out Rick Charette with your kids. Jane Johnson writes, “It may be your last chance to see Rick Charette and the Bubblegum Band for the 400th time. Spoiler alert… You will be singing those dumb ass songs for weeks after.” (I still love you, Rick!)


  • Earplugs! Wear them, particularly around the live music. Great advice from Ellen Murphy.


  • Walk there if you can, or plan on parking far away if you are driving in from out of town. Jane Johnson reminds that “there is no parking anywhere, no matter what time you arrive.” Also, if you want to get out of there quickly, you’re better off walking a long distance to your car than you are getting caught in the vehicular nightmare that is the Old Port Festival.
  • ESCAPE! Jen Hodsdon writes: “Plan an exit route that skirts the Old Port so that when you’re ready to leave you can just go.”

  • Pay extra attention to the hydration and sunscreen thing.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Get a designated driver.
  • Have fun and don’t be a dick.
  • Again, pay extra attention to the hydration and sunscreen thing.
  • Jason Read says to get the samosas and then get out of there.
  • John Macy says to use discretion when pricing lobster rolls, as there ARE cheap lobster rolls and he reports that they ARE good.
  • Get ice cream at MDI Ice Cream on Exchange. They have the best ice cream on the peninsula. They are a client of my company, I should point out, but I would have said that about them anyway. Mmm. Love.


  • “Wear Depends and carry a puke bucket.” The Fuge
  • “Have a heart and don’t bring your dog.”  Jenicka
  • Get a way from the crowd. Come to Mama’s Crow Bar.” Mama
  • “Don’t wear studded clothing unless you want to injure everyone who touches you (and you will be touched by everyone). — Jen
  • “Stop by the Pride Portland booth!” Chris
  • “Be nice to the retail employees. They don’t want to be there just as much as you do want to be there.”  Molly
  • Pretend the puke adorning market, wharf and commercial streets is a Rorschach test and try and see butterflies.” Michael
  • “Whether you plan to keep away entirely, or decide to attend, an on-peninsula yet out-of-the-Old-Port escape plan is necessary. I recommend some music, beer and fried fish on the tar patio at Rising Tide.” Stasia

PHOTO CREDITS: All come by way of Instagram capture of the 2014 Old Port Festival. Curious George by way of lena_really, hipsters drinking beer by way of leclairextraordinaire, fried pickles by way of blklze, Spose by way of spizzyspose, and sunburn by way of seraileri.


Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.