ROCKLAND — The president of the Maine Lobster Festival announced Wednesday afternoon, July 13, the three seasonal food trucks by the Middle Pier will not be charged a fee by the Festival.

Her announcement comes after the Festival was criticized by a City Councilor for the organization’s plan to charge the trio of businesses.

“I find it unconscionable,” Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf said at the Council’s July 11 meeting.

The Festival has charged seasonal vendors — who already have contracts with the city — a per square footage cost for them to operate during the days the Festival is using the property. That is allowed in the city ordinance and in the contracts the city signs with the seasonal vendors.

The Festival returns this year after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City Council agreed May 9 on a 3-2 vote to waive about $16,000 in fees for the Festival to use Harbor Park and adjacent Buoy and Mildred Merrill parks. Councilors MacLellan-Ruf and Sarah Austin voted against the waiver.

The 75th anniversary of the Festival will run from Wednesday, Aug. 3, through Sunday, Aug. 7. The parade is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6. The Festival begins setting up on the city waterfront starting July 27 and will have the grounds cleared by Aug. 9. The Festival is not charging admission to the event this year.

Festival President Celia Crie Knight said Tuesday, July 12, the Festival is following the city ordinance that gives those renting city property the exclusive rights during the period. The Festival president also pointed out the application the vendors complete with the city indicates during special events the organizers of that event are granted exclusive use of Buoy Park, and may charge a fee not greater than what is charged to other vendors.

“If Louise has a problem she should work on changing the ordinance. We are only going by what the city wrote,” Knight said.

Knight said the following day, however, that the charge will not be imposed for the three businesses.

The three vendors — Amato’s, Mac Attack, and Tuck & Roll — paid Rockland $3,000 this year to operate from April 1 through Nov. 30.

Omar Hadjaissa, who owns the Amato’s in Rockland, said he has not talked with the Festival this year about the expected payment. This is the sixth year he has had the food truck on that site.

“We’re a part of the community,” Hadjaissa said.

He has paid the fee in the previous years when the Festival was held but questioned why they would seek money this year when they are not paying for use of the property.

He said the fee has been $400 to $500.

Richard Curtis, owner of the Mac Attack said he was very surprised to be told he was not allowed to sell lobster product like lobster Mac and cheese. He said he also is not allowed to provide his own soda, that has to be bought through the Festival’s vendor.