When Chloe Blake was crowned the Maine Lobster Festival Sea Goddess in 2020, she was not only looking forward to representing the Midcoast and the lobster industry through the year, but also to passing along her crown at the Maine Lobster Festival the following August.
The pandemic delayed that process, and Chloe used her “bonus years” as the Sea Goddess not only to gain more confidence and knowledge about our great state, but to shine her light a little brighter amidst unsettled times.
Before Chloe passed the crown to 2022’s Maine Sea Goddess, Olivia Dougherty, she shared some of her experiences with the Sea Princesses competing for the coveted crown at this year’s Coronation festivities.
“Two years ago, I made the decision to do something that I wasn’t very comfortable with,” she said, about mustering the courage to run in the pageant.
Chloe was already faced with the stress of navigating her senior year during the lockdown. “I was spending my days sitting in my living room, finishing what was supposed to be my best year of high school — the one everyone looks forward to with activities like homecoming, sports, college acceptances and scholarships, prom, and all the little things in my senior year that would lead up to my graduation from Medomak Valley High School.”
Instead, Chloe spent most of her days juggling online school work, college applications and online meetings. She was trying to maintain her social life through FaceTime and texts, while making face masks on her sewing machine and binge watching “Tiger King” on Netflix. “Let’s just say that year was pretty awful,” she said.
It was during the midst of all of this turmoil that Chloe decided to compete as a Sea Princess during the 2020 Maine Lobster Festival. “I had been to the festival a lot growing up, and was essentially raised there since both of my parents worked there and I had a ton of family there.”
She knew it would be a fun experience and a great opportunity to help pay for college. Along her Sea Princess journey, Chloe’s fear of public speaking improved and she gained confidence while participating in events across the Midcoast area and being interviewed by judges.
“(The experience) not only helped with public speaking, but also with my communication skills, interpersonal skills, my confidence, and my ability to feel comfortable in front of large groups of people,” she said.
Chloe found these skills especially helpful when she was taking practicum, similar to student teaching, at Skowhegan Area High School last semester. “You need public speaking abilities and confidence when you’re standing in front of a class of high school students teaching them chemistry,” she said.
She got to practice “teachable moments” even before that as the Sea Goddess, when during the Maine Lobster Festival Big Parade, little kids would point at mascot Rocky and say, “Look at that princess with the giant crab!” Instead, she would just smile and yell back, “He’s a lobster!”
Chloe said she learned a lot about the state of Maine and its history during her time as Sea Goddess. “Some of the highlights were definitely visiting Bixby Chocolate, because who doesn’t love chocolate, especially from a Maine company right out of Rockland; lobstering with Krista Tripp, which was so much fun, except for ripping the bait fish in half to get more oils and guts out to attract the lobsters — that was a little gross!”
Chloe has no regrets about stepping out of her comfort zone during those dark days of the pandemic. “Having this amazing opportunity to be the Maine Lobster Festival Sea Goddess has shined a brighter and happier light throughout all the difficult times that this pandemic has brought,” she said. “Being in all the parades I was in and seeing all the happy faces of everyone from the community coming together made it all worth it.”
If you missed the coronation or any other festivities during the 75th Maine Lobster Festival, make sure to mark your 2023 calendars now for Aug. 2-6. We can’t wait to see you there!