‘Authentic Maine Town’ sign beckons Bar Harbor tourists to Bucksport

Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 5:47 PM EDT
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BUCKSPORT, Maine (WABI) - For years, Bar Harbor-bound travelers have made their way up Maine’s coast, crossed over the Eastern Channel Bridge from Verona Island, and continued right on Route 1 in Bucksport.

Are all those people making the right decision? Or have they left an opportunity behind?

Perhaps all they need is a sign.

“We’ve tried for years to figure out how we can get people to turn left at the light. That sign gets right to the point,” said Richard Rotella, community & economic development director, Town of Bucksport.

About two weeks ago, a series of new signs popped up in Bucksport.

“It made me smile. That was the first thing. And then the second thing that went through my mind was: why didn’t we think of that?” said Susan Lessard, town manager, Town of Bucksport.

The blue banners stand at the intersection of Main Street and Route 1, beckoning Bar Harbor-bound tourists left into Bucksport instead.

“I found out who was responsible for the sign, and they’ve come to Bucksport with a bang,” Rotella said.

Meet the entrepreneurs responsible for the bold idea: Alex Pellin and Lisa Gant.

Originally from Yorkshire County, England, they landed in Belfast before a new opportunity brought them about 20 miles up the coast.

“We feel like we have a sense for it. We went to Belfast seven years ago and we could feel this energy and opportunity that was there. And, you know, Belfast has really taken off. We can feel it for Bucksport,” said Pellin.

In addition to their boat tour business, The Back and Forth, the couple is currently restoring the old Masonic Lodge on Franklin Street.

The main floor is their personal living quarters. The top floor will soon be short-term rentals, and the long-term vision is to put a new business in the basement.

So, where does a left turn lead you? Many of the shops in Downtown Bucksport are open year-round. There’s a waterfront walkway with beautiful views of Fort Knox. And last but not least, can’t forget about the restaurants, including The Dairy Port.

“Try it! Turn left,” Pellin said. “We’ve had a number of emails since we put the sign up and people have come and they’ve turned left.”

“That sign is so Bucksport. Even thought it was not developed by a native, so to speak, it was developed by someone who gets Bucksport,” Lessard said.

“Bucksport has such a different personality. It has such a gritty vibe, which we really like. And we’re excited that there’s so much here already for people to do. You can spend a full day here without any trouble. You can park your car here; you can walk around,” said Gant.

“It’s the resilient town that can,” said Rotella. “When we lost the mill in 2014 there was some uncertainty, but we’ve come back and we’ve come back stronger.”