Richard Blanco
Richard Blanco
The 13th annual Maine Downtown Conference will begin at Point Lookoout in Northport and finish in downtown Belfast on Friday, May 31, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Educational sessions - on cultural tourism, historic preservation and sustainable design, transforming downtowns through wellness, and growing downtown economies through local foods - will feature national speakers discussing creative solutions for downtown revitalization.

Inaugural poet Richard Blanco, who read at President Obama's second inauguration in January 2013, will be the keynote presenter at the conference. A builder of cities as well as poems, he holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and an MFA in creative writing. He lives in Bethel, where he serves on the town's planning board.

The annual Maine Downtown Achievement Awards will be presented during lunch at Point Lookout, then the conference moves to downtown Belfast, a nationally designated Main Street community, where four different tours -Architecture & Preservation, Upper Floors & Interiors, Creative Economy, and the Working Waterfront - will be going on back-to-back so that conference-goers can get to two different tours in the afternoon. The Conference-After-Hours will be held on the deck and patio at the Three Tides and Marshall Wharf Brewery.

Advance registration is required. For those who are not members of Maine Development Foundation, a Main Street Maine or a Maine Downtown Network Community, the cost is $75, or $60 for members. Main Street Maine and Maine Downtown Network Communities include Augusta, Bar Harbor, Bath, Belfast, Biddeford, Brunswick, Bucksport, Calais, Camden, Castine, Damariscotta, Dover-Foxcroft, Eastport, Gardiner, Houlton, Kennebunk, Kingfield, Lisbon, Machias, Madawaska, Norway, Presque Isle, Rockland, Rumford, Saco, Sanford, Skowhegan, Stonington, Van Buren and Waterville.

To register for the May 31 conference, go to For more information, contact Roxanne Eflin at or 626-3117.