It’s nail biting, hilarious, and one of the most popular events at the Maine Lobster Festival year after year: the Great International Lobster Crate Race.
Contestants range from children to adults who scamper across a string of 50 floating wooden lobster crates that stretches between two docks in Rockland’s inner harbor. The aim is to get to the dock on the other side without falling into the harbor’s chilly water. Those who have the necessary balance and endurance then race back across the crates again to the start and, if successful, turn back and keep going back and forth until they tire out or take the plunge. Most contestants—often with theatrical falls—do not reach the dock even once with dry clothes. But not to worry, there is a spotter in a rowboat to assist contestants who fall in.
This crowd-pleasing event was started by William Atwood, son and grandson of lobstermen and founder of Atwood Lobster Co., a processor of frozen lobster and other seafood.
Everyone participating in the race needs to run—not walk—across the crates. The lighter you are, the easier it is to make it to the other side, so kids tend to do best, and this makes the Great International Lobster Crate Race a highly entertaining family event. In 2012, 12-year-old Connor McGonagle, from Owls Head, Maine, smashed all previous records when he kept going and going without falling in, covering 6,000 crates total! Weight classes include featherweight (up to 75 pounds), lightweight (76-125 pounds), medium weight (126-175 pounds), and heavyweight (176 pounds and heavier). See the results of last year’s race.
To participate, you must register in person. Registration starts at 7 a.m. on the day of the race in the Souvenir Tent of the Maine Lobster Festival. There are a limited number of slots and they fill up quickly, so we recommend being there up to two hours early. The fee is $11 for contestants age 12 and up and $6 for children age 11 and under. The fee includes admission to the festival.
This year, the Great International Lobster Crate Race will take place Sunday, August 5, at 2 p.m.. This year’s Maine Lobster Festival runs August 1-5, and it’s an ideal summer event to plan your vacation around.
Whether you’re cheering for the contestants or racing yourself as hundreds of people watch, clap and urge you on (or laugh at your tumble), you’ll never forget the challenge of racing the crates at the Maine Lobster Festival.