Each summer and fall, Maine residents and visitors enjoy a variety of lobster festivals and coastal celebrations. Many of these festivals celebrate fishermen and the fruits of coastal Maine, from lobsters to clams and oysters. Some events, like the Maine Lobster Festival, are big commercial affairs and attract visitors from around the world. Other events, like Friendship Day and the Frenchboro Lobster Festival, are small town celebrations attended by the local community and people in the know. The details of many of Maine’s lobster, oyster and other coastal festivals for 2020 are still a work in progress but here are the dates and an overview of what these coastal celebrations entail.
June 2nd – 7th, 2020: The Kennebunkport Festival –The Kennebunkport Festival is week full of events, parties and dinners that highlight local art, music and cuisine. The dinners are particularly appealing as they’re cooked by local chefs and hosted in private homes. Lobster, oysters and other seafood is often featured on the menus.
June 15th – 21st, 2020: Portland Wine Week – Portland Wine Week is a food and wine festival full of wine tastings, pairings, lunches and dinners. The events are held throughout the Portland area, in venues like the Falmouth Country Club, top Portland restaurants like Central Provisions, Sur Le, Eventide and the Honey Paw. There are even wine and oyster tastings on sailboats in Portland Harbor.
June 21st – 29th, 2020: The Boothbay Harbor Annual Windjammer Days Festival – The Boothbay Windjammer Festival is a celebration of coastal Maine’s maritime history. The week-long event features an antique boat parade, day sails, harbor and coastguard station tours. Along with the maritime events, visitors can participate in a lobster eating contest, cod fish races, children’s events and more. The Boothbay lobster boat races take place on June 20th, the day before the Windjammer Festival kicks off.
June: The Damariscotta Oyster Celebration: For the last two years, the coastal town of Damariscotta has hosted a dynamic, three day oyster festival in mid-June. The immersive event has offered oyster lovers a chance to tour and taste their way around local oyster farms, learn about the latest aquaculture innovations, and visit historic oyster middens. An oyster shucking competition and an international oyster chef competition have also been part of previous celebrations. While the date and details of the 2020 Damariscotta Oyster Celebration have yet to be announced, I assume and hope the oyster festival will be back again this summer.
2nd or 3rd Sunday in July: Stonington Fishermen’s Day – Stonington Fishermen’s Day is a small-town celebration and family fun day which takes place on the Stonington Fish Pier. There is a slippery cod contest, whacky boat races and lots of seafood on offer, from lobster to clams and more. It usually takes place the second or 3rd Sunday in July.
July 17th – 19th: The Yarmouth Clam Festival – The Yarmouth Clam Festival is a foodie’s paradise, with thousands of clams, lobster rolls, Lime Rickeys, shore dinners, homemade pies and strawberry shortcakes consumed across the three day event. There is a pancake breakfast, parade and a variety of other events and competitions from a running race and bike race to a clam shucking contest, diaper derby, fireman’s muster, street dancing and fireworks.
July 25th: Friendship Day – Friendship Day, the picturesque lobster fishing village of Friendship, is a wonderful, small-town celebration. As with many summertime festivals along the coast of Maine, it features a pancake breakfast, parade, fireworks over the harbor and a chance to enjoy the fruits of the Maine lobster season – locally caught, new shell lobster. While a lobster bake is not a central part of Friendship Day, lobster rolls and cooked lobster are sold at various venues as part of the celebrations. While the date of the 2020 Friendship Day has yet to be announced, in previous years the celebration has happened on the last Saturday of July.
July 29th – August 2nd: The Maine Lobster Festival – The Maine Lobster Festival, held in Rockland, is the biggest and most famous Maine lobster fest. It stretches over five days and serves over 20,000 pounds of lobsters to seafood fanatics each year. All of these lobsters are freshly caught by local lobstermen off Owls Head, Spruce Head, Cushing and Stonington and transformed into shore dinners and lobster rolls for hungry diners. There are a plethora of events over the long weekend, from crate races and a lobster cooking contest to the coronation of Maine’s annual Sea Goddess.
August 8th : The Winter Harbor Lobster Festival – The Winter Harbor Lobster Festival is much quainter than the Maine lobster fest. It includes a blueberry pancake breakfast, running race, lobster boat races, a parade and a fabulous lobster dinner, featuring steamed new shell lobster, corn on the cob, coleslaw, a drink and dessert. Other yummy foods, including lobster rolls, are usually sold throughout the day.
August 8th: The Frenchboro Lobster Dinner – For more than 50 years, the Frenchboro Congregational Church has hosted an annual Lobster Dinner to benefit the Church and the island community. This Lobster Dinner is always held the second weekend in August and attracts hundreds of visitors to the beautiful island, many who come year after year to enjoy delicious new shell lobster, homemade pie, live music, a road race and children’s games. Even the journey to the Frenchboro lobster festival is special, as you have to take a ferry boat from Bass Harbor, on Mount Desert Island.
August 16th: MS Harborfest – MS Harborfest is a two-day festival of sailboats, tugboats and lobster boats in Portland, Maine. It includes benefit auction, shore-side activities, food and a festive atmosphere —all in aid of a good cause (the National Multiple Sclerosis Society). Between the regatta, lobster boat races and tug boat muster, visitors can check out some best lobster roll eateries in Portland – from Bite Into Maine and the Portland Lobster Company to Eventide Oyster Co. AU
September 4th – 7th: The Boothbay Harbor Fest – The Boothbay Harbor Fest is a 10 day celebration of local food, music and more in one of Maine’s most famous lobster fishing villages. Visitors are able to indulge in a plethora of seafood tastings at local restaurants and enjoy craft beers as well as partake in dinner dances, running races and an oyster shucking contest and demo.
October 22nd – 25th: Harvest on the Harbor in Portland – Harvest on the Harbor, which takes place on the Portland waterfront over five days, is one of Maine’s most popular and premium Food and Wine Festivals. It features top Maine chefs, food from Maine’s eight regions paired with local beers and wines, a lobster cooking competition and a moonlit gala.