Canada Without a Passport: A Tourist’s Guide to the Maine Counties and Whatever

Tourists: we can’t live with ’em, and we can’t live without ’em.

Maine is struggling to compete with Vermont and Atlantic Canada for tourist money from cash-strapped families in Massachusetts. Here at The Sardine Report, we thought we’d help by issuing our Official Sardine Report Tourist’s Guide to the Maine Counties and Whatever.

If you happen to encounter someone From Away, or if you have a friend or a relative who may be coming for a visit, be sure to pass this along. It’s for their own good.


Androscoggin County:
Motto: “The Armpit of Maine”
Population: 100,000, plus a bunch of illegals who don’t count
Seat: Auburn (Aw, burn the factory down, they’ve outsourced all the jobs, anyway)
Little-Known Fact: Overalls still in fashion here
Recommendation:  Androscoggin County has much to offer in the way of tourism. And by “in the way of tourism,” we mean that Androscoggin County literally gets in the way of tourism, taking up an extra 500 square miles of space that people have to drive through to get someplace better.  It doesn’t help

Don’t buy this bullshit.

that the D.O.T. put up a sign telling people to take the turnpike through here to get to Augusta or Portland, when 295 is much faster and less depressing.
Events: Lewiston hosts a hot-air-balloon festival every summer, but it’s just as good on Youtube.
Aroostook County:
Motto: “See Canada Without a Passport”
Population: 72,000 (41% livestock)
Seat: Houlton (There are a Houl-ton of reasons not to bother driving way the hell up here)
Little-Known Fact: Aroostook County was forced on the United States after we lost the bloodless “Aroostook War” in 1839.
Recommendation: If you wind up here, it’s either because you have Alzheimer’s and tried to go to the post office and wandered 500 miles out of your neighborhood, or because you are a documentary filmmaker.  However, this is the only place in Maine where the people are actually friendly – they don’t see outsiders very often, and treating yourself to meal at a local restaurant will practically double the economy. If you want to feel appreciated, go here.
Events:  None that you want to know about, trust us.

Tried to warn ya…

Cumberland County:
Motto: “We Certainly Don’t Need a Motto, Thank You Very Much”
Population: 282,000 (25% Rostafarian)
Seat: Portland (duh)
Little-Known Fact: You can legally have sex here.
Recommendation: No visit to Maine is complete without a stop in Portland, known as one of the “coolest” and most progressive small cities in North America.  It’s like Burlington, only it’s on the ocean, not on a giant lake that

It’s easy to start thinking you’re in a real city until someone pulls this shit.

looks like an ocean.  Stroll around the Old Port and just feel the hipness permeate your skin, oozing toward you from trendy restaurants whose menus are too sophisticated to list prices; and if they do, they don’t lower themselves to print the cents or punctuation (“Boiled Haddock 13”).  Spending just an hour in Portland makes you more interesting, provided you’re one of the few people who is not thoroughly wasted or hung over the whole time you’re there.
Franklin County:
Motto: “It’s Totally Safe to Ski Here, Honest”
Population: 32,000 (17% hospitalized)
Seat: No thanks, I’ll stand
Little-Known Fact: Recently repaved Route 4 is made of asphalt, a petroleum-based concoction sold by terrorists.
Recommendation:  People come to Carrabassett Valley for skiing, but stay for

Bah… just a normal glitch. We’ll have it fixed in no time.

the ambulances, which can take a pretty long time to get over there from Kingfield, particularly when the weather’s nasty.  Despite a number of highly-publicized lift and slope accidents in recent years, Sugarloaf/USA has worked tirelessly to improve its safety record, and their efforts are paying off.  The ski resort boasted zero injuries from June to September of last year. 
 Events: The Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum hosts a “Knit and Crafts Show and Sale” on July 16 from 9-3 p.m.  Because when you think of Maine’s rich forestry heritage, you obviously think of all the knitting and crafting that goes on during those lunch breaks in the deep woods.
Hancock County:
Motto: “Don’t Call Us Hand-Cock… Well, Okay, If You Must”
Population: 54,000 (90% seasonal)
Seat: Ellsworth (“Are we there yet?”)
Little-Known Fact: Verona has cooties.
Recommendation: The stunning natural beauty of Acadia National Park, blah, blah, blah, quaint coastal villages like Castine, yadda, yadda, yadda, stay the hell out of Bucksport, etc.
Events:  The tidal rapids at Blue Hill Falls are one of Maine’s natural wonders, although they won’t be doing anything at all when you get there.  Same with Thunder Hole.
Kennebec County:
Motto: [Buried in committee]
Population: 122,000 (62% lawyers and lobbyists)
Seat: Augusta (home of Maine’s only legit rotaries)
Little-Known Fact: There are other towns in Kennebec County besides Augusta.
Recommendation:  There is so much history and culture in Kennebec County, we don’t even know where to start.  Colby College has an excellent art museum, voted the best art museum at Colby College six years running.  In Gardiner you can marvel at one of the nation’s most antiquated toll plazas.  Take the kids to

A typical meeting of the Appropriations Committee.

the state capitol, where they can tour the state museum and see the legislature in session, provided they happen to find the right room and the committee meeting time didn’t get changed at the last second.
Events: Maine’s “citizen legislature” is made up of ordinary men and women from all walks of life who travel to Augusta to have affairs with other lawmakers.  Stop by when the House of Representatives reconvenes in the fall to see some real filibustering, if you catch our drift.
Knox County:
Motto: “You call that a yacht?  I have BMWs bigger than that.”
Population: 40,000 (73% are the 1%)
Seat:  Rockland (“Knox Has Rocks”)
Little-Known Fact: The town of Appleton was named for a character on the 1990s sitcom “Perfect Strangers.”
Recommendation:  We have had the pleasure of knowing Knox County since we were roommates together in college. In a a variety of professional and community-service settings, Knox County has proven that it possesses the reliability, integrity, and ingenuity to be trusted with any task.  You will not find a more trustworthy and qualified candidate.  We strongly recommend Knox County for employment at your brothel.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Events:  Rockland hosts the North Atlantic Blues Festival each July, providing music lovers the chance to pay 50 bucks to hear what they have to presume are some of the hottest acts in the genre, even though no one has ever heard of them.
Lincoln County:
Motto: “Meeting all your quaint lighthouse needs since 1827.”
Population: 35,000 (all boring)
Seat:  Wiscasset (“Wis-casket was Lincoln buried in?”)
Little-Known Fact:  Lincoln County was actually named for the city of Lincoln, England. Fuck you, Abraham Lincoln.
Recommendation: Nestled in the mid-coast region not convenient to the Interstate, Lincoln County offers a variety of amazing attractions just ripe for new vacation memories. When you find out what they are, let us know. 
Events: The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay hosts a fairy festival each August, much to the delight of four-year-old girls everywhere, and absolutely zero other people.
Oxford County:
Motto: “See the world. Meet interesting people. Shoot them.”
Population: 58,000 (81% armed)
Seat: Paris (Insert your own sarcastic comment here)
Little-Known Fact: The town of Stow tried to secede to New Hampshire in 2007, but nobody noticed.
Recommendation: Oxford County has a number of nice little streams,

Oxen in Oxford County. Haha!

waterfalls, and hiking trails for you to frolic in and around until a local militia member sprays you with bullets.  On the other hand, at least you’re only an
hour or so from North Conway, NH…
Events:   The Fryeburg Fair, the quintessential rural agricultural celebration of inadequate dental care, starts at the end of September, if you’re still here for some reason by then.
Penobscot County:
Motto: “Go ahead, hit me again.”
Population: 154,000 (38% on bath salts)
Seat: Bangor (Bang-er? I barely know-er!)
Little-Known Fact: When the casino opened people thought it would be just for slot machines and harness racing. Ha!
Recommendation: If your hand value is 12, you should always hit, unless the dealer is showing 4, 5, or 6, in which case you should stand. Also, don’t eat at the Eagle’s Nest Restaurant in Brewer. The residue on the dishes alone will make you ill, never mind the food.
Events: If you stick around long enough you can probably witness a paper mill closing.

The next jobs we get will be just as good, how much you wanna bet?

Piscataquis County:
Motto: “Some money would be really great for us about now.”
Population:18,000 (93% broke)
Seat: Dover-Foxcroft-Sangerville-Brownville-Guilford (towns jammed together to pool resources)
Little-Known Fact: Piscataquis County has fewer than six inhabitants per square mile, but it is altogether plausible that the census people did the smart thing and “forgot” to visit Atkinson.
Recommendation:  Despite the abject poverty and people living in shacks, there are actually several good reasons to visit Piscataquis County.  Moosehead Lake is a stunningly scenic and enormous natural wonder for people who like to look at huge bodies of water that are not oceans.  Outdoor adventurers journey to Baxter State Park to climb Maine’s highest peak and not leave any money there. 
Events:  On the official Piscataquis County website, the “Business and Commerce” link is inactive. ‘Nuff said.
Sagadahoc County:
Motto: “The Forgotten County”
Population: 35,000 (18% irrelevant)
Seat: Bath (“Sagadahoc Needs a Bath”)
Little-Known Fact: Sagadahoc County is home to an actual ghost town, Perkins Township, an island in the Kennebec River abandoned in the 1940’s because it is in Sagadahoc County.
Recommendation: People who live in Maine generally forget all about this county. Unless you’re going to Popham Beach, you should do the same.  
Events: Do forts and lighthouses count as events? No? Aw, screw it.

They do when I’m there…

Somerset County:
Motto: “Got Tractors?”
Population: 52,000 (0.04% vegetarians)
Seat: Skowhegan (“Skow-town” or “Skow-nacious”)
Little-Known Fact: There is actually a territory called Misery Township here.  Surprising how the name didn’t catch on.
Recommendation:  Somerset County is for thrill-seekers.  Head to The Forks if you’d like to go whitewater rafting with an unmotivated, hung-over college student as your guide.  If that’s not scary enough, wander around Athens for a while. How creepy is Athens?  People in Caratunk make fun of Athens for all the incest that goes on there.  
Events: In late August watch for the annual Egg Festival in Pittsfield, which features the world’s largest frying pan cooking the world’s largest egg breakfast to kick off the world’s 4th-largest excuse to get drunk before 9 a.m.
Waldo County:
Motto: “Got Hybrid Tractors?”
Population: 39,000 (58% hippies)
Seat: Belfast (“Waldo rang the Bel-fast”)
Little-Known Fact: Fort Knox is located in Prospect, not Knox. Both Fort Knox and the town of Knox are in Waldo County, not Knox County.  Meanwhile, Washington is in Knox County, not Washington County, and Lincoln is in Penobscot County, not Lincoln County. Do we know how to fuck with your sorry ass, or what?
Recommendation: If you’re Earthy, Waldo County is the place for you. Belfast boasts the best-run local food co-op in the state, and you can barely swing your arms in Brooks without hitting an organic farmer. Unity College is able to bill itself as Maine’s “Environmental College” because it has solar panels on its cafeteria.  So if you like being around those kind of people, go hang out there for a while and feel good about yourself until you start to crave air conditioning again.
Events:  The Common Ground Country Fair, a “celebration of rural living,” is held every September in Unity, rain or shine…

… and just because they’re Earthy doesn’t mean they don’t make animals do stupid shit for our amusement.

Washington County:
Motto: “We Have Coastline, Too, You know.”
Population: 33,000 (24% migrant)
Seat: Machias (“Munch-yer-ass”)
Little-Known Fact: Rodney L. Perkins, 24, of Cherryfield has a mole behind his left ear.
Recommendation: From Addison to Topsfield, Washington County is stuffed with tourists eager to drink in Maine’s natural beauty and quaint historic villages, who are being told in rough Downeast accents that they were supposed to turn right in Ellsworth.  They might as well be hundreds of miles from the pristine rocky shores and soft sand beaches to the west; Washington

Go ahead and try swimming here, I dare ya.

County’s coastline is mostly mud. So if you’re not in the mood to dig for clams or maybe rake blueberries, turn right around before you get carjacked by someone who’s never seen a Volvo before.
Events: Did you know there are people who actually travel to Eastport to see “America’s first sunrise,” as if it somehow looks different than the sunrise they would see 10 miles east of Rochester, NY?  Don’t be a dipshit.
York County: 
Motto: “No, Really, the Rest of Maine is Just Like This”
Population: 197,000 (Includes Portsmouth, just to piss of New Hampshire)
Seat: Medford, MA
Little-Known Fact: Smuttynose Island was the site of a brutal double-ax-murder committed in 1873 and re-enacted annually in Old Orchard Beach.
Recommendation: York County is an enigma. For every Kennebunkport, there is an Arundel. For every Wells, an Ogunquit.  Just when you think it’s safe to leave North Berwick, Sanford looms on the horizon.  Overall, though, the place is all about beaches and outlet stores, and is full of fun and fair weather and cash up to your eyeballs.  The rest of Maine is exactly like this, so no need to bother driving any further.
Events: The Biddeford Zoning Board of Appeals will meet June 13 at 6 p.m. to discuss a variance for Ellen T. Howell of 171 Graham St., who wants to build a deck beyond the 15-foot setback boundary required by local ordinance.  The public is invited to attend.


  1. Hilarious.

  2. Gee. Bitter much?

  3. Nancy Hudak says:

    Too funny; too true!

  4. Too effing funny….you really should get paid for doing this!

  5. Steve in Scarborough! says:

    Oh my God. I have *never* laughed so hard and loud at any other piece of Maine humor writing. This piece is absolutely outstanding! You made my day. Thank you, whoever you are!

  6. longtail says:

    maybe not in money.

  7. One of your BEST! Nailed ’em!

  8. Laughing so hard I scared the cat!

  9. Blueheeler says:

    On this one you’ve proved yourself to be a contender… of The Onion & National Lampoon.

  10. mainefirstlight says:

    Commonground Fair is in Unity, not Thorndike

    • You know, for just a minute, Thorndike had a moment in the sun, a brief spurt of notoriety to help itself feel important and valued. And you had to go callously ripping that away like Cruella De Vil. All because that two-tenths of a mile difference in location on either side of an arbitrary political boundary was just so important to you. Well, we fixed the error, and Thorndike sure hopes you’re happy.

  11. Captain Snarkle says:

    Captain Snarkle enjoys your robust commentary on the Maine State!

  12. kathie macchioni says:

    i really like the turquoise blue that you use to lead up to the rest of your story. oh! and never knew maine was, so, well… “interesting”.

  13. Carol Riemer Coles says:

    I absolutely love Maine and I absolutely love this sacriligious diatribe! Brilliant!!!

  14. That’s Hell-Fast (in Wado County) to you.

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