New events, old traditions at 45th Yarmouth Clam Festival
YARMOUTH — The festival that annually draws thousands of people to Yarmouth from all over the country will celebrate its 45th anniversary this year.
The Yarmouth Clam Festival, from Friday, July 16, through Sunday, July 18, will provide visitors with favorites such as seafood, art and music, and will feature two new green offerings and a surprise event before the kick-off parade.
One green feature this year is valet bicycle parking.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine and the Yarmouth Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee will work together to provide the free service for those who arrive on their bikes.
Allison Vogt, executive director of the coalition, said cyclists visiting the festival will have a safe place to leave their bikes while enjoying the weekend.
"This option will help to reduce traffic in the downtown area, will reduce congestion, and is a free service," she said. "People will fill out a form, receive a ticket stub, and off they go without having to pay for a parking space."
Volunteers will watch over the bikes on July 16 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., July 17 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and July 18 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Another green feature is the "Clean Water for Clams" exhibit.
The Kennebec Estuary Partners, an environmental protection group, will present a display to show the public how important the industry is for the state. The exhibit will highlight the cultural and economic value of shellfish within the area, possible pollutants that threaten shellfish habitats, and how to prevent pollution and protect Maine’s coastal habitat.
On Friday from noon to 4 p.m. the exhibit will feature a tide-pool touch tank for children and adults to interact with animals and plants found in Maine’s waters. There will be sea urchins, sea stars, horseshoe crabs, sculpins, and sand dollars to touch.
Another addition to the festival this year is the work of local bead maker Sam Lawrence.
Lawrence, a 26-year-old Yarmouth resident, created individual glass beads that depict the color of the ocean and coastline to represent the Clam Festival.
He said festival planners asked him to create a special Clam Festival bead, and he was happy to provide glass beads for the occasion. He said he likes working in this field because each piece is unique.
"The way that I work, it’s very hard to get a match. Also, very often, I’m surprised with the color outcomes," he said. "It’s very interesting to see what colors react with one another."
Five years ago Lawrence suffered a traumatic brain injury from which he is gradually recovering his cognitive, motor and speech functions. He has been making glass art for nine years and also creates paperweights, worry stones, buttons and pendants. He said he has about 88 Clam Festival beads, but a dozen have already been purchased.
Beads can be purchased at the Clam Festival’s information booth and through the festival’s online gift shop.
In addition to dining on clam cakes, clam chowder and fried clams, visitors can enjoy other traditional events such as races, rides, music and crafts.
The Yarmouth High School band, Low-Flying Airplanes, will perform at 1:30 p.m. at Village Green Park. The group was voted best high school band in the Maine Academy of Modern Music's 2010 Maine Teen Rock-off.
The Clam Festival parade will begin at 6 p.m. Friday on Main Street, but spectators are encouraged to arrive early if they want to witness a special event: festival spokeswoman Lisa Perkins said the Levity Project, a performance arts group, will create "Maine's Longest Smile"near the festival center on Main Street before the parade begins.
The parade theme is "Three Cheers for Champions: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," Perkins said.
"The theme honors Herbie the 217-year-old American Elm tree lost this year after a 50-year battle with Dutch elm disease, as well as Frank Knight, the 101-year-old man who championed Herbie's survival through those 50 years and 14 bouts of the disease," she said.
Knight will lead the parade as the grand marshal and float designs will celebrate champions of every kind. Current tree warden Deb Hopkins will be on the float with Donna Felker, the woman who named Herbie, and her family.
"The float is a family tree of children and grandchildren and other people close to Herbie," Perkins said.
On Saturday, there will be a six-mile canoe and kayak race starting at 6:30 a.m. at Yarmouth Town Landing. The course travels around Lanes Island and up Cousins River to the Muddy Rudder.
There will be a Kids Fun Run at 7:15 a.m. at Memorial Green. For the adults, the 30th annual Pat's Pizza 5-mile Road Race starts at 8 a.m. on Main Street.
Other events on Saturday include live music, trolley tours, horse and buggy rides, the Maine State Clam Shucking contest and the Maine Firefighters Muster.
Sunday's events include the 30th annual Men's and Women's Professional Bike Race starting at 9 a.m. at Memorial Green.
Continuing a tradition since 1973, children through age three can participate in the Diaper Derby at the Merrill Memorial Library Lawn tent at noon. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and there are three divisions for children ages 1 month to 3 years.
Throughout the festival more than 100 artists and crafters will display and sell pottery, clothing, paintings, wood carvings and jewelry.
Carnival rides and amusements provided by Smokey's Greater Shows will operate beginning, Wednesday, July 14, at 5 p.m. and continue throughout the festival.
Amy Anderson can be reached at781-3661 ext. 110 or email@example.com