Downtown Rockland will be a lively night spot this summer as festivals return as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides locally.

The Friday art walks will return Friday, July 2. Representatives of the Farsnworth Art Museum and Rockland Main Street Inc. met Monday evening, June 7 with the Rockland City Council in a Zoom session to discuss a request to close Main Street from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the art walk.

The City Council will vote on that request at its June 14 meeting.

The first art walk since 2019 will coincide with a belated Maine bicentennial along Rockland Harbor. The bicentennial was postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic.

The July celebration will highlight the role played by marine trades and mariners in the story of the State.

All events are free of charge.

A recognition ceremony of the bicentennial, windjammers and 150th birthdays of the vessels Stephen Taber and the Lewis R. French, followed by the Blaine House Series concert featuring local singer-songwriter Bella Barnes, Schooner Fare and the Dave Mallett Band on the Fisherman's Memorial Stage from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Fireworks in the harbor at 9:30 p.m. will cap the evening's festivities.

Concert attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs. There is no charge or ticketing for admission, but organizers will monitor numbers and encourage attendees to spread out for social distancing.

In terms of public health and safety, organizers are emphasizing continued importance of hand washing or sanitizing, social distancing and mask wearing.

Organizers said they will continue to monitor local and statewide data on COVID-19 rates: should adjustments or changes become necessary there will be updates on the Rockland Main Street Inc. website, on social media and in the local press.

Speaking for the ad-hoc organizing group, committee member Dan Bookham stated in a news release, "Although we hoped to mark Maine's 200th birthday on the Rockland waterfront last summer, the celebrations will be all the sweeter after the trials and tribulations of the past year. We'll be honoring our state, the windjammers as the personification of our marine heritage, and the fact that both the Lewis R. French and Stephen Taber in their 150th years can lay claim to be the oldest working merchant ships in the U.S.

"Equally as important, we can also come together to recognize the strength and resilience that continues to be shown by our part of the Midcoast in the face of the pandemic with a harbor full of beautiful ships and incredible music with a coda provided by a beautiful fusillade of fireworks!"

The following weekend, the North Atlantic Blues Festival will be held downtown on Saturday and Sunday July 10 and 11 at Harbor Park. The Festival was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

On Friday night, July 9 the Blues Fest plans to hold it annual Club Crawl. Blues Fest organizer Paul Benjamin asked the City Council at its June 7 meeting to close Main Street for the annual Club Crawl from 8 1 a.m. The Council will also vote on that request on June 14.

In a continued effort to increase vaccinations, Mayor Ed Glaser said the city followed up on a suggestion by Benjamin to see if the state could have a mobile COVID-19 vaccination center downtown for the Club Crawl. Glaser said that it looked as if this would occur after contacting the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Knox County Emergency Management Agency,

Glaser then joked that he hopes that there aren't signs saying "Pub Crawl, free shots."

Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long said he can confirm that Rockland city officials have been in communication with Maine CDC about offering a vaccination clinic during the Blues Festival.

"It will likely involve a local partner, which would most likely be a health care system or EMS program," he said.

As of June 9, 68 percent of Knox County residents are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. The statewide average is 62 percent. Cumberland County has the best vaccination rate at 75 percent. Somerset County is the worst at 49 percent.