The Maine Lobster Festival is held each year on the banks of Rockland Harbor at Harbor park. The 2023 five-day event saw visitors from all over the country, from Michigan to Oklahoma to California, as well as international guests from over 50 countries.

Colorful vendor tents were packed with visitors eager to taste the different foods, shop the unique crafts and so much more. During this year’s festival, over 20,000 pounds of lobster were cooked in the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, lead by head lobster cooker, Vern Mossman. A total of eight cookers simultaneously steamed the fresh Maine lobsters to perfection for visitors to enjoy.

Maine Lobster Festival Delegate Coronation

Under sunny skies, Adelaide Hendricks from Cushing was crowned the 2023 Maine Lobster Festival Delegate. One of her responsibilities throughout the next year will be representing the Maine lobster industry, traveling to fairs and festivals throughout New England to educate the public about the hardships faced by lobstermen. Her chosen nonprofit was the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, which has special meaning for her family.

Other winners included Autumn Oxton, who was crowned Second Delegate, and Lizzi Swan, who was crowned Miss Congeniality.

Save Maine Lobstermen Event

On day two, the Save Maine Lobstermen Event was held in the North Tent. This informative event included a lively discussion about the importance of the Maine lobster industry, with impassioned speeches by Amber-Jean Nickel, who is COO of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and President of the Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance; Congresswoman Chellie Pingree; Rockland Mayor Louise MacLellan-Ruf, and members of the Maine Lobster Festival leadership team.

A fascinating new movie was also unveiled, called “The Ghost Trap,” based on a book by local author K. Stephens, which tells the story of a lobsterman who faces personal and business hardships in a small lobstering community in Maine. There’s even a scene of the Maine Lobster Festival International Great Crate Race in the movie!

Seafood Cooking Contest

Open to amateur chefs, the winning recipes in this year’s Seafood Cooking Contest included Hilary Mallette’s Lobster Andouille Sausage and Grits (First Place), Joseph P. Veruto’s Joe’s Seafood Stew (Second Place), and Janice Abendroth’s Haddock Jan (Third Place). Every dish was delicious, and the audience got to taste samples.

We were joined by Chef T, aka NextLevelChefT on Instagram and TikTok. Chef T supported the chefs and then gave a live cooking demonstration of his own using ingredients he found locally at Jess’s Market, cooking contest sponsor FIORE Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars, and Main Street Markets.

The Big Parade

Recognized as the most popular event at the Maine Lobster Festival, the “Spirit of 76” themed Big Parade this year was a huge success. Starting at 10 a.m. from Main Street in Rockland, the parade wound its way through town featuring Grand Marshals Sharon Lombardo and Bob Oxton, floats from many local businesses, New England Patriots Cheerleaders, Pat the Patriot, Slugger The Sea Dog, Color Guards, the Coast Guard, sailors from the USS Gunston Hall, Bands, Shriners, Miss Maine 2023, the newly crowned 2023 Maine Lobster Festival Delegate, King Neptune and his court, the Special Olympics, and many more.

Winners this year included The Strand (Best Theme), Elks Lodge (Nonprofit Category), Taste of Maine (Director’s Choice), Fisher Engineering (Commercial Category), Nutmeg Fife & Drum Corp (Best Band) and the MVRA All-Stars (People’s Choice Award).

5K & 10K Road Races

This year, more than 300 runners participated in the 5K and 10K Road Race events at the Festival. The 5K is an inclusive walk/run event, while the 10K is a great challenge for serious runners. A one-mile Kids Fun Run also took place in the morning. Connor Daigle took First Place in the 5K race, while Riley Sawyer took First Place in the 10K. Complete race results can be found at the bottom of the webpage linked above.

International Great Crate Race

This is a highly anticipated event of the Festival, with runners standing in line as early as 5:30 a.m. to get their name in one of the 75 coveted spots on the registration list. In preparation for the International Great Crate Race, the seawall is lined with a crowd of festivalgoers who cheer for each participant as they do their best to make their way from one dock to another across a string of 50 lobster crates. The goal is to make it across as many times as you can without taking a plunge into the chilly ocean waters of Rockland Harbor. Wearing socks helps, as well as running — as fast as you can without slowing down!

The youngsters in the Featherweight and Lightweight divisions seem to easily skim across the wooden crates, while those in the Heavyweight divisions are usually in a sink-and-swim predicament starting with crate No. 1. Pick-up boats are on either side of the string of crates, ready to pluck unlucky contestants out of the drink. But hey — it’s all about the fun, right?

Well, fun and bragging rights, of course. And if your last name is Genthner, you likely earned yours! Kobe and Aiden Genther of Owls Head, who are 10  and 13 respectively, both went home champions in their weight divisions. Kobe skipped across 2,500 crates, and his brother Aiden won his class as well as the most crates of the day with 6,188! (That is 247.5 trips across the string of crates!) Other division winners were Harrison Page and Timothy Sullivan.

It’s not too early to start planning for the 77th Maine Lobster Festival. Join us July 31-Aug. 4, 2024 for this awesome event at Harbor Park in Rockland, Maine, for fun, feasting and celebrating Maine’s lobster industry!