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'Banner year' for Yarmouth Clam Festival

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'Banner year' for Yarmouth Clam Festival

YARMOUTH — Last weekend's 49th annual Clam Festival, with its 6,000 pounds of clams and 145 craft show booths, attracted one of its biggest turnouts in recent years.

According to Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carolyn Schuster, there were 130,000-150,000 people at this year's festival. Usually the chamber expects around 100,000 people.

"I think it was a very good year," Schuster said. "Anytime we get weather like that, we get crowds."

Ben McNaboe, the assistant director of the festival, agreed, saying the warm, sunny weather played a big role in the success of the three-day event. 

"The weather was great for us," McNaboe said. "Compared to last year when it was really really hot, we had a great year."

In addition to attracting new guests, the festival also featured new booths in the craft show. One was manned by Holly Hagen of Creative Capes, a company based in Maryland. 

Nestled among booths of paintings and photographs depicting nature scenes in Maine, Creative Capes stood out with its bright colors and flashy fabrics. Hagen, who said she attends about two dozen craft shows a year, brought 750 capes for her first time at the Clam Festival. On Saturday, about halfway through the festival, she said she had already sold hundreds.

These numbers reflect how Hagen's business has been doing since its start in 2010.

"The cape business just kept growing and growing," Hagen said. "I left my job to do Creative Capes full time."

Hagen said she sews all the capes herself; each one has a letter on it to represent the wearer's first initial. She also makes cape accessories, such as eye masks, wrist cuffs, and belts. Hagen creates various sizes, making the capes available for children and adults of any age.

"You're never too old to be a superhero," she said.

Many children who entered Hagen's booth demonstrated what she said she hopes to achieve with her company. Wearing the capes, which come in various color patterns, children at the festival became excited, with many striking "superhero poses."

"(Wearing capes) gives kids self-esteem," Hagen said. "They feel very powerful when they put them on." 

Hagen also makes limited-edition capes each year. This year she has camouflage capes for boys, and blue glitter capes for girls, inspired by the movie "Frozen."

The Disney-themed cape was a hit at the festival with 4-year-old Ella Williams of Hudson, Massachusetts, who exclaimed that she wanted to be Queen Elsa as she walked by the booth. Her excitement prompted her mother to buy her a full cape set with the accessories. 

Hagen said watching kids find happiness in the capes is what makes the business so enjoyable.

"It's very rewarding to interact with the kids and bring joy to them and bring empowerment to them," she said.

While many people explored the Clam Festival craft booths, just as many were checking out the other things the festival had to offer. Between road races, musical acts, a clam-shucking contest, and a firefighters' muster, the thousands of attendees were provided constant entertainment.

But the biggest draw of the weekend, of course, were the clams. The money raised from the sale of the food benefits charitable organizations. McNaboe said the chamber won't know how much it raised until the end of the week, but he said the numbers are making them happy.

"It was definitely a banner year," he said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.