The Maine Lobster Festival returned to Rockland to celebrate its 75th year, and at the Courier-Gazette we loved it!

The festival committee organized a fantastic and successful return from the two year pandemic hiatus, with an impressive turnout and a great variety of activities for people of all ages.

Festival Director Shannon Kinney said while the festival did not track attendance, she was quite sure opening day of the 2022 Maine Lobster Festival set records. “We are exhausted but thrilled,” she said, and described this year’s event as incredible.

Some locals may have mixed feelings regarding the Lobster Festival, but that is not me. I love the festival, and feel a real connection to it for multiple reasons – and not just because of the lobster.

Ok, some of it is because of the lobster.

There is no denying the benefits our community receives from this event, despite the crowds and tourist traffic. This famous celebration of all things lobster brings visitors from all over the world every year, and those visitors have a significant economic impact on almost every local business.

Not to mention the resources the festival committee puts back into our community.

While I was pleased with the festival this year, things were a bit different. That always ruffles some feathers.

The 75th Maine Lobster Festival did not have traditional carnival rides, but did have free admission and a great variety of other activities for children and adults.

There were daily music guests all over Harbor and Buoy Park, and countless vendors of food, hand crafted items and those little battery-powered dogs that squeak nonstop and do little flips. Plus there were pirates!

I was able to attend the festival a few different days, including a trip with family members I had not seen in far too long. I got to sit next to my 8-year-old niece and teach her how to crack open her lobster. (Then of course I ate the bits she did not want. Those are the sacrifices we make.)

Two years without the Lobster Festival was far too long.

The festival has always been part of my life. I grew up attending it every year, and as I got older I participated in the parade and the events. The festival was a reason for far-off relatives to come visit. It was an excuse to hang out with my friends unsupervised. It was the promise of friend dough and, of course, lobster.

When I was 16, my grandparents took me on an exchange trip to Northern Ireland. As part of the trip I was able to spend a day at a local school with other teens my age. Of course all the other young women (it was an all girls school) wanted to know about America, and about Maine.

This was in the very early days of the internet. One of the girls grabbed an M encyclopedia (remember encyclopedias?) and flipped through the pages until she found Maine. She handed me the tome – and there on the page, in a bright colorful photo, was a photo from the Maine Lobster Festival.

“Oh!” I said. I pointed to the picture. “That’s it! That’s where I live!”

That experience has always driven home for me just how impactful our Maine Lobster Festival really is. Even in another country in the middle of winter, it was there calling me home.

Christine Simmonds is the managing editor of The Courier-Gazette. She grew up in Rockland and is an active member of the local community.