In a bid to return to some state of normalcy, Rockland was host to the North Atlantic Blues Festival July 10 and 11. The 2020 festival was, of course, cancelled – along with every other event from March 2020 on.

Multiple other events that were cancelled in 2020 were once again called off for 2021 out of an abundance of caution. The Thomaston Fourth of July celebration, the Maine Lobster Festival and the Maine Blues Festival, which was supposed to happen in the middle of June in Naples.

As the newest reporter at the Village Soup offices, I was both lucky enough and foolish enough to volunteer to cover the event. I had zero idea what I was getting into, and it was both wonderful and more than I was prepared for.

I will share a secret with you all. This was my first time at the North Atlantic Blues Festival. Yes, I grew up in Rockland. Yes, I attended the club crawl many times from the age of 21. No, I never attended the actual festival before this year.

I am grateful for the opportunity and the assignment as well. I had a truly fantastic time, but I also never would have attended either the festival or the club crawl this year if it were not for my job. The reason is very simple: Inertia.

Newton’s Law of Inertia states that an object in motion will stay in motion, and an object at rest will stay at rest, both unless acted on by an outside force. For the past year plus, I have very much been an object at rest, but my job “forced” me to attend this festival (there is a little physics pun for you).

The truth is I was a little overwhelmed at times by both the festival and the crawl. There were so many people! I have not been around a literal crowd of people in what feels like forever.

At times I have felt like the pandemic broke me.

I don’t exactly know how to be with people anymore. I have always been an omnivert, which is someone both extroverted and introverted. Sometimes I need to be around lots of people and can talk to complete strangers with ease. Sometimes I need to be alone and can barely hold a conversation. As a millennial, don’t even get me started on the idea of making a phone call.

A lot of it depends on the company, the time of day, how I am feeling.

Because of the isolation of COVID-19, my introvert side has been coming out more and more. That kind of habit is hard to break out of. The further into the pandemic we got, the more I just wanted to be alone with my cats over the company of anyone. (This also put a bit of a damper on dating, as usually that involves spending time with another human.)

Thankfully, the North Atlantic Blues Festival appears to have healed some small part of that. The more I did my job and took pictures and spoke with people at the festival, the more fun I had, and the more comfortable I felt.

I arrived at the festival at 11 a.m. I expected to stay for an hour or so. I stayed until almost 4 p.m. and barely registered the time passing. Every person I spoke with expressed their excitement to be there and experiencing live music again.

I had so much fun. The opening act, Memphis Lightning, was absolutely astounding. They broke right into the festival and stole the show on the first day. That night when they played at Trackside Station they drew such a huge crowd that the restaurant was at capacity. I witnessed people standing outside Trackside, watching the show through the window and dancing.

A festival is not a festival without a souvenir and some fair food, of course.

In what I deemed a brilliant move, the festival sold leftover shirts from previous years.

I purchased a 2019 tank top for $5, and a North Atlantic Blues Festival sticker for $1. I have not determined where to place the sticker yet, because that kind of decision is a permanent one. This is another common phenomenon in people my age, known as sticker anxiety. That is a column for another day. (Feel free to email me suggestions for where to stick it.)

When my stomach determined it was time to eat, I went to Uncle Sean’s Fish and Chips food truck. As I ordered, I asked how long the truck was in business since I was in full-blown extrovert reporter mode by that point. I was informed this was Uncle Sean’s first time in operation!

The owner told me he bought the truck in August 2020, and this was his first opportunity to attend a festival and sell his fresh fried seafood. I had the whole belly clams and fries, and declared Uncle Sean’s first time out a success (as well as mine).

Assistant Editor

Some folks noticed the announcement that I got a promotion. I am now an assistant editor undercover cashier!

In case I have not spoken with you, let me answer your comments and questions: Thank you, not much and yes.

Thank you to everyone who reached out to congratulate me by email and in-person. It was so special to see how many people were genuinely pleased for me with this move.

Not much will change from my current job with this title. Many of the tasks I was undertaking in the last few months already fall under the category of assistant editor. My boss calls that initiative, but I call it being helpful. (I also take out the office kitchen trash if it is full, put away clean dishes and replace toilet paper if I use the last of it. Jill of all trades here.)

Yes, thankfully, I will still be reporting local news stories and covering your town. The relationships I built in these communities mean so much to me as I move forward in this new role and order brand new business cards to forget in my car when I am on location.

Christine Simmonds is the Assistant Editor of The Courier-Gazette. She also works at a convenience store on the weekends. Christine has lived in Knox County most of her life, and previously worked in education.

Christine Simmonds takes pictures of a band during the 2021 North Atlantic Blues Festival club crawl, Rockland July 10. Justin Riley