Searsport Shores Invites You to Connect with Nature, Music, and Your Inner Artist

The owners of Searsport Shores Oceanfront Campground, home to the Makers Guild of Maine, understand that nature can spur creativity.

an airstream set up at a Searsport Shores Oceanfront Campground campsite
Photo by Shobhna Callahan

People have traveled to Maine to enjoy the state’s unhurried way of life for generations. With abundant forests, freshwater lakes, streams, and ponds, and, of course, the rocky coast, the landscape has long enticed campers and served as a source of inspiration for artists and craftspeople.

Searsport Shores Oceanfront Campground understands that connection between nature and creativity. Steven and Astrig Tanguay, who bought the campground with Astrig’s parents, Zaven and Rosalie, in the early ’90s, have hosted art and music events since their first season. “We wanted to celebrate the aspects of life in Maine that make us sizzle — creativity, independence, and outdoor living,” Astrig says.

The property’s 40 oceanfront acres include an art studio, a woodworking shop, a kitchen surrounded by organic gardens, and a shop filled with locally produced treats and gifts. The award-winning campground has sites for tents and RVs, and cabins for rent.

An artist-in-residence program began in 2000. Each week, a visiting woodworker, knitter, painter, musician, cook, or other crafter teaches a skill, and the classes are free for campground guests. On Wednesday nights, creatives and campers gather for a guitar-picking party and sing-a-long under the stars. The annual Armenian Picnic, scheduled for July 28, brings a taste of the Caucasus to the midcoast, a tribute to Astrig’s Armenian ancestors.

Photos by Shobhna Callahan

The success of the artist-in-residence program spurred the creation of Fiber College, a weekend-long combination of classroom instruction, festival, and retreat in early September. Eventually, the art arm of the campground business grew so large, the nonprofit Makers Guild of Maine was incorporated. “We wanted to be an economic engine that brought new money into the community and let it circulate,” Astrig says.

This Labor Day weekend, the Fiber College is hosting Open Studios. “We’ll put a cluster of artists in three different studios offering instruction to all ages,” Astrig says. The artists — whose skills include printing, dyeing, knitting, and woodworking — will be available Saturday and Sunday, and participants can move freely among them. “The whole idea is you have control over what you want to learn,” Astrig says.

The following week, a five-day Touchstone Retreat will give participants the opportunity to dive deep into a single skill, with intensive workshops focused on natural pigments, papermaking, felting, broom making, and working with wool from sheep to shawl. The retreat also includes farm-fresh meals, social time around the campfire, and forest bathing.

The season finishes with the Strung Together Music Campout, a three-day experience that includes community jam sessions, contradances, storytelling, and workshops, September 13–15. This year’s event will focus on various forms of folk music brought to Maine by seafarers, lumberjacks, travelers, and homesteaders — from Old Time to Irish — that locals continue to play and love.

The Tanguays hope all visitors have an authentic Maine adventure. “The takeaway is more than just an art project,” Astrig says. “It is something beautiful you can put your hands on — and an experience you can reflect back on and feel great about.”