ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
It all began at a gathering of a group of citizens and summer folk in March 1947, where a discussion arose as to what could be done about reviving the summer activities that Camden had prior to the war years. It was decided that having a marine festival of some sort would be appropriate. Having it become an annual affair was intentional from the beginning. The festival is held every year on the first weekend in August. These are a few of our future dates:
It was suggested that it was time the Maine lobster and the Maine lobster fishermen came into their own. On that basis, the Camden-Rockport Lobster Festival was conceived as being the logical type of festival for this area.
Upon deciding to do this, a non-profit organization known as the Camden-Rockport Lobster Festival Inc. was formed. Its president was Earl Fuller of the Maine Coast Sea Food Corporation; the vice president, Clinton Lunt of the Camden Shipbuilding and Marine Railway Co.; the secretary, E. Hamilton Hall, editor of The Camden Herald and the treasurer and executive director, Henry S. Bickford.
An executive committee was formed to work with and advise the group from the very first festival and still continues today. The organization and success of each year’s Maine Lobster Festival depends on the dedicated service of a Board of Directors, all volunteers from the local community, who work throughout the year to handle thousands of details. The Festival Corporation is a non-profit organization. Individuals can join as members, and a special effort has been made since 2005 to encourage this new level of membership. While nearly 1,300 area citizens volunteer some time during each year’s Lobster Festival, it is the Board of Directors who makes it possible for the gates to open. No sooner have the gates closed on one year’s celebration than the planning begins on the next year’s event.
The Maine Lobster Festival is indeed one of Maine’s premier summer events and is recognized nationally. During the past several years, scores of articles about the festival have appeared in international magazines and major metropolitan newspapers. It also has been featured on several international television programs, including a feature broadcast on the Food Network.
CONTRIBUTING TO THE COMMUNITY
The Maine Lobster Festival is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. After serving the thousands of lobster lovers who descend upon Rockland, Maine for the Festival each year, our Board of Directors budgets the money needed to organize future Festivals and gives the rest of the proceeds back to groups, charities, and organizations throughout the Rockland area.
In recent years, the Maine Lobster Festival Board of Directors has given more than $500,000 to the local community through support for organizations such as Midcoast Regional Child Development Services, Trekkers and Meals on Wheels. In 2019, the Maine Lobster Festival presented checks to many school teams and organizations. The monies collected within donation boxes set up at the gates were presented to 5 separate non-profit or not-for-profit organizations. The Landing Place was presented $300; Pope Memorial Humane Society was presented $200; Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen was presented $250; The US Coast Guard Morale fund was presented $150; and Window Dressers was presented $150.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
In addition to Executive Committee members: Charlie Bagnall, Bob Bird, Jen Chapman, John Ferraiolo, Nancy Jeffers, Su Johnson, Shannon Kinney, Alice Knight, Sharon Lombardo, Bob Oxton, Brandy Perkins, Laurie Smith, Peter Smith, Vern Mossman, Karyn Rizzo, and Kat Smith.
Board meetings are held monthly and are open to the public. Members are welcome to attend meetings that are held the last Tuesday of the month (except December) at the Maine Lighthouse Museum, 1 Park Drive, Rockland, ME at 6:30pm.
Maine Sea Goddess Sandra Patten
Through the sheer dedication of countless community members for six decades now, the Maine Lobster Festival has endured and, many would say, has succeeded in getting better with each passing year.
It all began at a gathering of a group of citizens and summer folk in March of 1947, where a discussion arose as to what could be done about reviving the summer activities that Camden had prior to the war years. It was decided that having a marine festival of some sort would be appropriate. Having it become an annual affair was intentional from the beginning.
It was known that a lobster festival held in Nova Scotia was a big success, and it was then suggested that this activity might be the answer for the community. In addition, it was suggested that it was time the Maine lobster and the Maine lobster fishermen came into their own. On that basis the Camden-Rockport Lobster Festival was conceived as being the logical type of festival for this area.
Upon deciding to do this, a non-profit organization known as the Camden-Rockport Lobster Festival, Inc. was formed. Its president was Earl Fuller of the Maine Coast Sea Food Corporation; the Vice President, Clinton Lunt of the Camden Shipbuilding and Marine Railway Co.; the Secretary, E. Hamilton Hall, editor of The Camden Herald and the Treasurer and Executive Director, Henry S. Bickford.
An executive committee was formed to work with and advise the group from the very first festival and still continues today. The first officers were; Wayne Buxton of the Maine Development Commission; Owen Smith, editor of the Maine Coast Fisherman; Rudolph O. Marcoux, National Sales Director of the Maine Broadcasting System and Percy Keller, Camden’s town manager. In addition, the Maine Sea and Shore Fisheries Commission, in the person of Richard Reed, assisted the executive director.
Talbot O Freeman, VP of Pepsi Cola Company and Master of Ceremonies of the Camden-Rockport Lobster Festival shows an example of the big fellows he looks forward to eating at the festival on Saturday. The soft drink company has generously arranged, as a public service to the community, for profits for their sale of their drink at the festival to be enjoyed by the Camden YMCA whose members will man the refreshment booth.
As published on the front page of the Camden Herald, Thursday, August 14, 1947.
The offer of “All the lobster you can eat for $1” caused the first festival to lose money and for that and other reasons the original Camden group did not pursue the event a second year. At the same time, the Rockland Junior Chamber of Commerce decided to bring the Lobster Festival to Rockland as a club project.
The 1948 festival featured a parade, hot lobster cooked by several local dealers and trucked to Rockland ‘s Public Landing, a concert by the Rockland City Band on Saturday afternoon, and a coronation ball Saturday evening at the Rockland Community Building. At this premier coronation, Ruth Roberts of Rockland was crowned as the first “Miss Maine Seafoods.” It was in 1948 that the festival extended from one day to two and was held in July. Since then, the Maine Lobster Festival is held the first weekend in August that contains the first Saturday. There are some festival traditions that have been consistent since the beginning. These are the selection of a Sea Goddess, the serving of Maine lobster, and a grand parade.
DONATION: FILLED OUT FORMS CAN BE EMAILED TO BRANDY PERKINS, CHAIR – [email protected]
The Maine Lobster Festival is truly a community festival. We would not, and could not, exist without our commitment to giving back to the people of Midcoast Maine.
In the mid-1990s, then-Maine Lobster Festival President Ed Kolmosky gathered the set-up crew and quickly realized that the pavement at Rockland Harbor Park was in rough condition. Some tent stakes would not hold in the crumbling hard-top.
Komolsky called Rockland’s city manager and learned there was no money in the budget for repairs. His typical “can-do” response resulted in getting a local paving crew to the Festival grounds in a less-than-typical time frame. The Maine Lobster Festival took care of the paving for the city property at no cost to taxpayers.
A few years earlier, the city needed a new ambulance but had no money to pay for it. Thanks to a donation from the Maine Lobster Festival, the City of Rockland bought a new ambulance. When a local developer set his sights on the land at the top of the hill above Rockland Harbor Park, long-time Maine Lobster Festival stalwart and retired teacher, Mildred Merrill, realized the last harbor view on Main Street was threatened. It took several years, but under Mildred’s steadfast leadership, the Maine Lobster Festival bought the land and donated it to the city with the understanding that the view would not be blocked.
These are three examples of the Maine Lobster Festival’s core mission – Giving back. Our strength is the more than 1,100 volunteers who help us each year.
“This combination is what makes the Maine Lobster Festival unique, and it’s what keeps us going all winter,” said Tim Carroll, Maine Lobster Festival past president.
Other community contributions and gifts worthy of note have gone to Oceanside High School for a new auditorium curtain, improvements to and furnishings for the teachers’ lounge, and additional educational support.
The festival also has supported other projects, including (but not limited to) the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, Camden First Aid Association, Freedom Riders, Meals on Wheels, Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry, Rockland Fire Department, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine, Knox Interfaith Teen Safe Havens, Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County, Destination Imagination, Rockland District Nursing Association, Literacy Volunteers, and Rockland’s Festival of Lights Celebration. Our largest gift to date has been a donation to the Thomaston Fire Department for the purchase of a new utility truck. A portion of the gate admissions are distributed annually for worthwhile recreation projects throughout Knox County.
Thank you for supporting the Maine Lobster Festival, as it supports the Midcoast community.