After a slow start to the lobster fishing season in the state of Maine, celebrations will soon be in full swing at the upcoming Maine Lobster Festival, held from July 30th to August 3rd in the small coastal city of Rockland.
Just a few short hours’ drive from the cities of Portland and Boston, Rockland is nestled on the western side of Penobscot Bay on the Gulf of Maine. It is on these waters where you will find charming harbours and quaint villages, some isolated and others bustling with fishing activity, dotting the rugged and often wild shores and islands of Penobscot Bay.
These villages, towns, and cities which hug the shores of mid-coast Maine are the heart of its lobster fishing industry and every summer the Maine Lobster Festival at Harbor Park in Rockland celebrates the summer catch, fresh from the sea.
As one might expect at a lobster festival, the focus is without a doubt on food. Fresh Maine lobster, thousands of kilograms of it, is steamed in the world’s largest lobster cooker before arriving red and ready on your plate. The light, sweet, and delicate meat is best savoured when paired with melted Cabot butter, but don’t forget to put on a bib before you get cracking.
Lobster dinners at the festival are served with buttery corn on the cob, with steamed Maine mussels and clams, and fried scallops, shrimp, haddock, clams, crab cakes, and calamari rounding out a sensationally seafood-centric menu. The Lobster Café offers decidedly more on-the-go fare like lobster rolls, wraps, and Caesar salads.
Those wanting to put their own culinary skills to the test are welcome to whip up their best recipes during the festival’s cook-off competition. Entries from last years’ competition included Lobster Mac-n-Cheese, Lobster Étouffée, and the winning Spectacular Seafood Cannelloni, so be prepared to give it all you’ve got.
Food aside, the Maine Lobster Festival also promises to be a lot of fun, particularly if you don’t mind a dip into the chilly waters of Rockland Harbor. A lobster crate race takes place on the last day of the festival and while some lucky contestants may only get their feet wet, most take a tumble off the line of fifty floating wooden crates lashed together at the waterfront. The results are a thorough soaking and a triumphant swim to shore as all efforts, successful or not, are appreciated by the thousands who gather to watch.
One of the most spectacular ways to appreciate the view of and around Rockland is to take a long walk into the harbour – you’ll nearly be walking on water – following the breakwater from Jameson Point to the red brick Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. The lighthouse is open for tours on summer weekends and in the distance you can spot fishing boats chugging past with the daily lobster catch.