ROCKLAND, Maine — With the deep blue harbor behind her and a shiny pink lobster on a plate in entrance of her, Mia Saunier of Ocala, Florida, appeared comfortable Thursday afternoon on the Maine Lobster Pageant in Rockland.
“I like lobster a lot,” she stated.
That put her in good firm. The second day of the competition, celebrating its seventy fifth 12 months, featured a number of smiling folks consuming 1000’s of kilos of Maine’s official state crustacean, all of which had been hauled from the chilly waters of Penobscot Bay.
In different phrases, in an important methods it was again to regular for the volunteer-run occasion, which is among the signature happenings in midcoast Maine throughout the summer season. The competition was final held in 2019 earlier than a two-year hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I feel folks had been actually lacking the possibility to get out,” Shannon Kinney, one of many administrators of the competition, stated. “Yesterday, certainly one of our distributors stated it was the most effective day ever, which isn’t traditional for a Wednesday.”
There are some adjustments, she stated, together with the truth that admission is now free and there’s a beer tent for the primary time ever. Pageant organizers additionally selected to not embody the carnival halfway this 12 months. And for the primary time, lobster shells will probably be recycled.
“We went inexperienced this 12 months,” Kinney stated. “It was an enormous shift, but it surely was the appropriate factor to do.”
Kids’s actions embody a petting zoo, video games, a festival-wide treasure hunt and the presence of the Pirates of the Darkish Rose, a bunch of pleasant midcoast-based buccaneers.
“For anyone who thinks they know the lobster competition, there’s lots of issues which can be totally different this 12 months,” she stated.
However the coronary heart of the competition stays pink, succulent and greatest served with melted butter.
“We’ll serve tens of 1000’s of kilos of lobster. We’re a superb buyer for our native fisherman proper now,” she stated. “Which is de facto what it’s all about.”
She’ll get no argument from guests like Tawanda Matthews of Lawrenceville, Georgia.
“That is our first time right here,” she stated. “We love lobster, and we’re having a superb time.”
Greg and Trish Mikkelson of Merritt Island, Florida, stated that they had come as much as escape the warmth, which on an 85-degree day felt prefer it had adopted them up the jap seaboard. Though they donned plastic bibs to eat their lobsters, they nonetheless received caught within the messiness crossfire.
“Why did I take a bathe this morning?” Greg Mikkelson joked.
Not everybody having fun with themselves on the occasion was on trip, together with Cindy Wallach, the manager producer for an eight-part collection about feminine lobstermen that can air on the Smithsonian Channel and Paramount+ when it’s accomplished.
Wallach and a crew from Lone Wolf Media in South Portland and Mongoose Movies of Detroit, Michigan, got here to the competition to movie two of the lobstermen who’re featured within the present.
“These ladies are so inspiring, and we need to present little women that they’ll do something,” the producer stated, including that it hasn’t been all work for the crew members. “We’re tremendous excited to eat lobster. I’m not sick of it but, and I’ve been consuming it just about each day of the shoot.”
Greater than 1,000 volunteers assist make the competition run easily. One of many youngest was Eli Thorne, 8, whose U.S. Coast Guard household just lately moved to Thomaston from Alabama. Eli helped his dad cook dinner lobsters on the World’s Biggest Lobster Cooker, which might cook dinner 1,600 kilos of crustaceans in simply quarter-hour. When requested the way it was, he was succinct.
“Sizzling and enjoyable,” he stated.
One of the skilled volunteers is Brian Harden of Rockland, who truly attended the very first competition 75 years in the past as a three-month-old child. His mom was in control of volunteers, in order quickly as he turned 5, he was given a job to do.
“My pal and I needed to come down and put potato chips on the plate,” he stated. “It’s all they trusted us with.”
He’s been a fixture on the competition most years since then.
“Folks come right here that don’t eat lobster throughout the 12 months. You see them sitting at these tables and so they find it irresistible,” he stated.