The lobster fishing villages of Downeast Maine take Independence Day very seriously. The town of Cutler, where I grew up, hosts a unique and wonderful Fourth of July celebration which has taken place each summer since at least the late 1800s. Below is the schedule for this year’s Cutler Fourth of July.
Cutler 4th of July Schedule – 2015
Saturday, July 4th
8:00 a.m. – The Cutler Harbor 5K Road Race. While only 5K, this running race will get your heart racing and your thighs burning as it includes three formidable hills, including a hill in the last mile called ‘the mountain.’ Once cresting this final hill however you are rewarded with a view of Cutler Harbor, cool ocean breezes and cheering bystanders as you make your way towards the finish line. I’ve had the privilege of winning the women’s division of this race twice and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. Runners and walkers are welcome and there are some good raffle prizes to be won after the race. Registration is at the Bay Ridge Elementary School from about 7:30 am onward (perhaps as early as 7:15). You can also pre-register by calling Andy Patterson at 259-4484. It’s worth pre-registering or getting to the Bay Ridge registration early on the 4th as free t-shirts are given to race registrants on a first come, first served basis. The earlier you register, the more likely you’ll receive a t-shirt (or a t-shirt in your preferred size).
10:00 a.m. – The Grand Parade, Downtown Cutler. This is a small parade with several firetrucks, some cute floats and lots of children riding festively-decorated bikes and ATVs. All are welcome to join. The start point of the parade is the Wharf Road and parade participants line up there from about 9:45 onward.
10:15 a.m. – Flag Raising Ceremony, Cutler Town Circle. The town circle is the real ‘center’ of the town and on the Forth of July there is usually a band perched on the town circle and some patriotic music to accompany the raising of the flag.
10:30 a.m. – Traditional Children’s Games, Cates’ Lawn, Downtown Cutler. These unique games have been played since at least the 1950s, when my mother was a girl. They include a coca-cola drinking contests (the first one to drink a full bottle of coke wins), a saltine cracker eating contests (the first one to eat a giant stack of dry saltine crackers then whistle, wins) and a bubble-gum chewing contest (the first to make a hard mass of bubble gum malleable enough to blow a bubble wins). Preschool games are also held at the same time by the old brick post office. These games usually include a penny scramble, where a bag of sawdust, with coins and candy mixed in, is dumped on the ground and kids scramble to get a descent share of the prizes.
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – BBQ Lunch, Cutler United Methodist Church. This delicious, annual BBQ includes homemade BBQ pork or chicken, southern baked beans, cole slaw, a roll, a drink and dessert and all proceeds go to the Cutler Scholars fund, which gives scholarships to Cutler children pursuing higher education.
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – The Crate Races, The Wharves Downtown. Perhaps the most unique event of the Cutler Fourth of July schedule of celebrations is the lobster crate race, where a bunch of barely buoyant, wooden lobster crates are precariously strung together and tethered between two wharves. Spectators are then challenged to run across the crates without falling into the icy water. Given the odds of making it across the crates are less than 10 percent and the water temperature is around 54 degrees, you’d think people would be reluctant to sign up for the challenge. Yet the opposite is true. In Cutler, we actually have to cap the number of contestants at fifty each year.
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Children’s Games, Cates’ Lawn, Downtown Cutler. These games include running races, three-legged races, sack races, wheel-barrow races and, my personal favorite, the ‘children-carry race’ where Dad’s compete in a running race, carrying their children. The first two races, for father’s with one or two children, are pretty straight forward. Then you get to the three-plus category, and that’s when things get interesting. Different Dads have different approaches to carrying their kids and it’s always fun to see them barreling down the racecourse with their children hanging off all sides.
4:00 p.m. – The Cutler Lobster Boat Races. These races are not part of the wider Maine lobster boat racing circuit. Rather they are a chance for local fishermen to engage in some friendly competition. Town folk and visitors view the action from the wharves and shoreline downtown. Fishermen often decorate their boats in festive flags and buntings for the races.
Sunday, July 5th
1:00 p.m. – Baseball Game, Willie Corbett Ball Field. This informal baseball game often has a ‘young vs. old’ theme and a concession stand, selling hot dogs, drinks and snacks, is open during the action.
Click here to read more about the town of Cutler, Maine.