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Updated: October 25, 2023

From spirits to shellfish: 4-day foodie fest opens in Portland

crowded event Photo / Provided Harvest on the Harbor, first held in 2008, opens tonight in Portland with an event called TOAST!

A popular Portland food festival, Harvest on the Harbor, opens Wednesday evening with a toast to Maine-made spirits including gins, vodkas, bourbons and rums at an event called TOAST!

Besides booze for the 21-and-older crowd, the $75 TOAST! ticket includes food pairings from the Portland Board, Tootie’s Tempeh and Kittylamb Brownies.

Around 1,000 people from several states are expected to attend the annual festival, which runs this year from Oct. 25-28.

The event is owned by Stefanie Manning and Jim and Gillian Britt of gBritt PR. The Britts are also the team behind Maine Restaurant Week, while Manning’s family owns and operates the Miss Portland Diner.

Three people
Photo / Provided
From left, Harvest on the Harbor owners Stefanie Manning, Gillian Britt and Jim Britt.

Harvest on the Harbor was first held in 2008, organized by what was then known as the Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau to showcase Portland’s restaurant and hospitality scene. This year marks the 15th edition for the festival, which skipped a year in 2020 due to the pandemic.

While the scene and the festival both continue to evolve, Gillian Britt notes that attendees still enjoy a more intimate format.

“This allows everyone to have time to meet the distillers, oyster farmers and others who are behind the incredible products we share at our events,” said Britt, who publishes the Eat Drink Lucky newsletter. “Every year is a bit different — it keeps things fresh and engaging for everyone.”

Gourmet grazing

While tickets for Wednesday night's event were still available that morning, all other events were sold out.

This year, organizers have expanded on last year’s small wine-and-cheese pairing by adding chocolate, cider and coffee to the “Gourmet Graze” mix. 

“We hope people discover some new favorites,” she said. The opening “TOAST!” event is also new, in collaboration with the Maine Distillers’ Guild to “raise a glass” to Maine-made spirits.

New vendors in 2023 include Freedom’s Edge Cider, as well as Bixby Chocolate. Ragged Coast Chocolates, Dean’s Sweets and Coffee by Design for Thursday’s “Gourmet Graze.”

The festival continues with the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Competition on Friday, wrapping up with an OysterFest on Saturday.

Britt noted that while the lobster contest is friendly, “the chefs take it seriously and that shows in the wide range of dishes you’ll find at the event.

"I'm always amazed by how many different ways there are to work with lobster, and each chef adds his or her own spin to it,” she said.

More information

Find out more and buy tickets for TOAST! and OysterFest here; all other events are sold out.

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