Skowhegan is the county seat of Somerset County, Maine. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 8,589. Every August, Skowhegan hosts the annual Skowhegan State Fair, the oldest continuously-held state fair in the United States. Skowhegan was originally inhabited by the indigenous Abenaki people who named the area Skowhegan, meaning "watching place [for fish]," and was massacred or driven from the area during the 4th Anglo-Abenaki War.
For thousands of years prior to European settlement, this region of Maine was the territory of the Kinipekw (later known as Kennebec) Norridgewock tribe of Abenaki. The Norridgewock village was located on the land now known as Madison. The Abenaki relied on agriculture (corn, beans, and squash) for a large part of their diet, supplemented by hunting, fishing, and the gathering of wild foods. The Skowhegan Falls (which have since been replaced by the Weston Dam) descended 28 feet over a half-mile on the Kennebec River. From spring until fall the tribe fished here, where abundant salmon and other species could be caught by wading. They speared salmon and other fish in the pools beneath two waterfalls there and utilized the rich land on its banks to raise corn and other crops. This place was an important stop on their annual migrations from northern hunting grounds in winter to coastal Maine in summer.