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Festivals still on for summer 2020

By Stephen Betts | Apr 10, 2020
The Maine Lobster Festival is planning the 2020 event.

Organizers of summer festivals in the Midcoast say the annual events are still a go.

"It is a go, 100% at this point," Maine Lobster Festival Board President Celia Crie Knight said April 8. "We have nearly everything in place."

"I think we will be just fine and people will be looking for get-aways and we are ready," Knight said.

The Festival states on its web site that it is closely monitoring the situation around COVID-19.

The Festival is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 through Sunday, Aug. 2 at Harbor and Buoy parks on Rockland's waterfront.

The Festival has been held every year since 1947. That first year was in Camden and the following year and every year since it has been at Rockland's waterfront.

Paul Benjamin, founder of the North Atlantic Blues Festival, said at this time, he is preparing as if it will be a go. He said vendor contracts have been received.

He stressed that it was still only early April and the Blues Fest is planned for Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12.

Benjamin said a final decision would likely be made during the first week of June.

"My gut feeling is that it is 50-50. We might be on the downswing by then but will people want to be in large gatherings?" Benjamin said.

John Hanson Jr., founder of Maine Boat and Home Show, said the show will be held.

"We're gung ho. We're excited. We can't wait to celebrate Maine's bicentennial and its maritime legacy," Hanson said.

The show is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Aug. 9.

He said the show will have more hands-on exhibits such as rowing lessons.

Both the Blues Fest and Boats, Homes and Harbors show are held at Harbor Park in Rockland. The Blues Fest has been held annually since 1994. The Boats show has been held for 17 years.

Mike Mayo said planning for the Thomaston Fourth of July is still proceeding.

But, he acknowledged, there is a definite possibility the event won't be able to be held.

"We are proceeding and hoping," Mayo said.

He said a decision would likely need to be made at the beginning of June.

At the April 7 online meeting of the Rockland Harbor Management Commission, David Wylie of the Ad-Hoc Harbor Harbor Management Plan Committee said the city should not allow any cruise ships to visit this summer and also said summer festivals should not be held because of the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Harbor Management Commission Chair Louise MacLellan-Ruf said such authority rests with the City Council.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said there have been no discussion by the city of canceling city festivals.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said at his April 9 briefing that there would need to be a prolong time without any new cases before restrictions could be lifted.

"Candidly, it's impossible to speculate," Shah said. "We can hope but hope is not a strategy."

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Comments (6)
Posted by: James or Elizabeth Crookham | Apr 22, 2020 07:10

It's very simple.  CANCEL!


Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Apr 11, 2020 16:52

It is time to cancel, not to sign contracts. Too bad they will need to be pushed to do the right thing.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Apr 11, 2020 12:03

The city council has been silent too long on this and other salient issues impacting Rockland residents, who already are at risk from people coming to Rockland from other states, which seems to increase daily. Camden city government has taken a clear stance on sheltering in place and ensuring people who travel into Camden are self-quarantining. Why is Rockland city government silent? Of course people want to experience a normal summer. But wanting normalcy and achieving safety from Covid-19 spread are opposing factors. There are reputable scientific sources which warn of a resurgence of the virus from September into next winter. This could be guaranteed if denial drives Rockland's festival organizers and the city council's muteness.

Phyllis Merriam

Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | Apr 10, 2020 21:37

Well, we can all live in hope but don't write contracts that will cost you money to get out of.  Perhaps the buses the tourists come in on, the townspeople can leave on for a safe place if there is such a one.


Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 10, 2020 13:34

Complicated yet easy. Lives are at stake and with that thought.....cancel and regroup another year.

Stay safe out there, Blessings!

Posted by: Kathy Westra | Apr 10, 2020 13:05

Every summer folk festival in New England that my husband and I regularly attend/perform at (NEFFA [ the New England Folk Festival], the Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival, "TradMad" week at Pinewoods Camp, and the Old Songs Festival, to name a few) has been canceled. All of those, like Rockland's summer festivals, are outdoor events, but they're canceled despite attracting far fewer people than the Lobster Festival in a less congested space than Rockland's Harbor Park.

I'm with Dr. Shah in believing that hope is not a strategy--except for hoping that all the local cheerleaders of our cherished Midcoast summer traditions (we're all cabin-crazy!) I really hope we've learned something from our experience so far about how this disease spreads in crowds and cruise ships. Science says it's way too soon to be making this call. The stay-at-home strategy is difficult, but while we wait for science to give us the all-clear, we are doing everything we can within the restrictions to support LOCAL nonprofits, farmers, fishermen, and business owners. (A shout-out to the Chamber of Commerce for creating a web page at to make itt easier!)

I'd love to know where Rockland's City Councilors stand, since it is they who must ultimately take a public stand.

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