Fort Kent and Madawaska may not be the most scintillating of towns, but there are, in fact, a handful of things to do aside from eat potatoes and chase moose around.
We talked to a couple of locals to get the skinny on Fort Kent and Madawaska. Here are some suggestions.
In terms of restaurants, there’s pretty much one game in town for dinner, and that’s The Swamp Buck, on Main Street. Nothing special, but perfectly adequate American food. The burgers are probably the best bet—get yours Cajun-style.
For breakfast, go to Doris’s Café—they’ve got “good, cheap diner food.”
If you’ve got your passport, there are also a couple of places across the border in Claire: Goody’s has donuts and cheap sandwiches, and there’s a Chinese place, too—aptly named The Maple Leaf—although you might want to wait to eat there until after your last race is over.
As for bars, you’ve got BJ’s, which needs no explanation.
There’s a movie theater, the Century, which is playing Shutter Island through Thursday, at 7 PM only. The catch: it’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays, so you’ve only got two chances to see it before they switch to their next film Friday.
If you’re getting really bored, you can check out the Blockhouse, which puts the “Fort” in Fort Kent. You can’t go inside during the winter, but it’s worth a look on an off day. Bring your canons and try to storm it.
Madawaska and Edmundston
These two towns are almost one and the same, separated only by the St. John River and a bunch of border guards. (Edmundston’s in New Brunswick.)
Like Fort Kent, there’s nothing too special for food in Madawaska. For dinner, there is Richardo’s (not Ricardo’s) Italian Bistro and Fish Shack, which has a “weird” ambience, but decent food.
Crystal Lynn’s is the best place for breakfast. Also, make sure you find and eat some ployes, a delicious, buckwheat pancake that’s a specialty in the area. It’s cooked only on one side, topped with something delicious, rolled up, and eaten. They probably will be served at the Four Seasons Lodge, where the races are held.
Edmunston has a handful of good French restaurants, and also a few clubs if you’re feeling really ambitious.
Since Friday’s race in Madawaska is in the afternoon, you can warm up at Carter’s Bowling Center on Main Street. Fox Theater is playing Alice in Wonderland nightly at 7:30.
There’s a Wal-Mart in Edmundston, and you haven’t lived until you’ve been to Marden’s. If you live in Maine, you’ve heard their ads on the radio (“I should have bought it, when I saw it, at Marden’s…)—they’re a surplus/department store. Go there, and you’ll find something you never knew you needed. Their current flyers feature organic lawn fertilizer, baseball helmets, and a “telescopic ratcheting jumbo anvil lopper,” whatever the heck that is.
On your way out of town, stop at the Scandinavian shop in Caribou, Monica’s Imports. They’ve got beads, bracelets, and other cool souvenirs.
If you’re driving south, make sure you stop for lunch at Dysart’s, a truck stop just south of Bangor with homemade bread, great food, and pie.
And finally, take some time to interact with the people in town. They’re almost unfailingly friendly, and most are big skiing and biathlon fans.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.