ROCKLAND, Maine - The tents are set up at Harbor Park to house displays of Maine arts and crafts, marine exhibits, children’s activities, and thousands of pounds of lobster and other seafood for Wednesday’s opening of the 61st Maine Lobster Festival.
The five-day festival will open at 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 30, and run through Sunday, Aug. 3, with daily tours of U.S. Coast Guard Station Rockland on Tillson Avenue, followed by visits to the historic Bird Block and tours aboard the Coast Guard vessels Abby Burgess and Thunder Bay.
Free shuttle service from free parking at Rockland District High School, MacDougal School or Rockland District Middle School and the festival grounds will be offered from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. all five days.
Wednesday is Home Town Day with no admission charge. The festival officially opens at noon when Megan Ranquist, the 2007 Maine Sea Goddess, along with King Neptune and his court arrive from the “briny deep” to raise the flag on the 2008 festival at ceremonies in front of the harbor master’ s building.
Lobster will be served at noon daily at the main eating tent.
Events will go on throughout the day until the highlight of the evening, the coronation of the 2008 Maine Sea Goddess on the main stage at 8 p.m.
Starting Thursday, admission will be $7 until 3 p.m., $10 until closing for adults. Children ages 6 to 11 pay $2 anytime, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free.
From 7 to 10:30 a.m. there will be blueberry pancake breakfasts at the main eating tent.
The gates open at 9 a.m. and a juried art show is displayed in windows of Camden National Bank on Main Street throughout the festival.
The morning features tours of the Coast Guard station and vessels, and of the USS Whidbey Island, LSD 41, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., leaving from the public dock.
The Whidbey Island is the lead ship of the Whidbey Island-class of dock landing ships. It was launched June 10, 1983, and has taken part in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Maine Eastern Railroad will operate a special schedule for the lobster festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The first two days of the festival, July 30 and 31, will be the usual schedule.
Gordon Page of MERR said the reversed schedule would accommodate the full slate of activities at the festival. With one phone call, passengers can order train tickets and purchase festival passes as a package. Adult fares start at $40 for a round trip, with reduced fares to passengers using Rockland as a starting point during the festival.
The lobster festival sea princesses enjoyed a ride aboard Maine Eastern Railroad over the weekend. The trip gave 18 of the 20 sea goddess hopefuls an opportunity to get to know each other better and provided the contest judges a chance to observe the princesses in a unique setting. Two of the candidates were unavailable to make the trip.
The lobster festival parade will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown Rockland, with Samuel W. Collins Jr. of Rockland as grand marshal.
Collins is the only surviving original incorporator of the festival who signed the certificate of organization that created Rockland Festival Corp., according to a testimony given earlier this year before the Rockland Rotary Club, where he is a member.
A former associate justice to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Collins continues to serve as an active retired justice of the court.
For information about the festival or the railroad, call 866-637-2457, or go to www.mainelobstertrain.com or www.mainelobsterfestival.com or www.maineeasternrailroad.com.