Rockland lobster festival opens Wednesday with free admission

Posted Aug. 03, 2010, at 5 p.m.
Peter Smith, of Rockland, is the head chef of the Maine Lobster Festival. Smith stood Tuesday in a cloud of steam as he cleaned the eight lobster cookers. The Maine Lobster Festival steams the bugs and does not boil them. &quotBy the end, I will have all sorts of steam burns all over me," Smith said Tuesday. He has volunteered at the festival on and off for 20 years.   BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY HEATHER STEEVES
Peter Smith, of Rockland, is the head chef of the Maine Lobster Festival. Smith stood Tuesday in a cloud of steam as he cleaned the eight lobster cookers. The Maine Lobster Festival steams the bugs and does not boil them. "By the end, I will have all sorts of steam burns all over me," Smith said Tuesday. He has volunteered at the festival on and off for 20 years. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY HEATHER STEEVES
Rides, games and vendor tents finished setting up against a misty Rockland harbor Tuesday. The Maine Lobster Festival runs from Aug. 4-8.  BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY HEATHER STEEVES
Rides, games and vendor tents finished setting up against a misty Rockland harbor Tuesday. The Maine Lobster Festival runs from Aug. 4-8. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY HEATHER STEEVES

ROCKLAND, Maine — About 2,000 pounds of butter and 24,000 pounds of lobster freshly yanked up from the ocean floor off the coast of Maine will be in the spotlight Wednesday through Sunday at the 63rd Maine Lobster Festival.

“I think the record is 28,000 [pounds of lobster] for one festival,” Peter Smith, head cook for the festival, said Tuesday as steam rolled off the ovens he was cleaning and testing.

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Smith, who has been a volunteer cook on and off for 20 years, said he can load each of his eight cookers with 200 pounds of lobster. Rugged baskets are used to load and remove the lobsters from the boxy steamer ovens. During the busier times at the festival, Smith said, he and his five volunteer cooks can steam 4,000 pounds of lobster in one hour.

Next to the lobster-cooking shack in Harbor Park where the festival is being held are the french fry, cotton candy and fried dough trolleys.

With setup having begun almost a week ago, the festival was taking shape nicely Tuesday. Rides such as Bear Affair, The Tornado, Dragon and The Sizzler were mostly assembled by early afternoon, and parking spots on Main Street were becoming scarce.

“Everything is going smoothly,” said Tim Carroll, president of the all-volunteer Maine Lobster Festival organization. “The weather looks great for the weekend; the entertainment is great.”

Tickets for country singer Clint Black, who will perform Saturday, have nearly sold out, Carroll said Tuesday.

Past the tie-dye shirt vendors, the people preparing to sell jewelry and hats, and the game tents which had stuffed tigers and Care Bears hanging by a leg from the ceiling, on Tuesday boats were beginning to line up at the public landing for the affair.

Aboard the Hodgepodge from Marathon, Fla., Woody and Methyl Hodgkins had arrived to attend their seventh festival. This year, Woody Hodgkins said, he plans to volunteer in a food tent.

“I’m feeding people coleslaw, having more fun than I deserve,” he said Tuesday after he docked his boat.

The two said they look forward to the crate race on Sunday when contestants run over partially submerged lobster crates until they plummet into the ocean. They also like rooting for contestants at the Maine Sea Goddess pageant.

But the Hodgkinses’ favorite part, they explained in unison, is “people watching.”

The gates for the Maine Lobster Festival open at 9 a.m. today. Tours of the Coast Guard Station Rockland’s headquarters and boats will kick off the festival, which ends at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, after the crate race awards and a wreath ceremony for fishermen lost at sea.

Wednesday is Hometown Day at the festival and general admission is free to everyone.

On Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, admission is $8 for those 12 and older. Thursday through Sunday, admission for ages 6 to 11 is $2.

Children age 5 and younger are admitted for free.

Bracelets for the carnival rides will be sold Thursday and Friday and will be good for that day only. Bracelets cost $20 each day.

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