Sweet competition in Yarmouth: Blueberry soda joins lime rickey at 50th Clam Festival

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YARMOUTH — If clams are the food of the Yarmouth Clam Festival, lime rickeys are the drink.

After 50 years, though, the citrus seltzer concoction had some competition.

Yarmouth Football Boosters introduced blueberry soda to this year’s festival, which took place July 17-19. Jeffrey Stewart, the drink’s creator, said he plans to bring the drink back each year.

“We want it to be a Clam Fest tradition,” he said.

Stewart said he’s not trying to replace the lime rickey.

“We’ll never knock off the lime rickey as the drink,” he said. “We just want to offer people another option.”

The blueberry soda is made using seltzer, ice, blueberries, syrup, and a mint leaf.

“It was an inspiration with the Maine ingredient,” Stewart said. “It felt like a chance to do something from Maine that no one else was doing.”

The lime rickey booth, run by the Downeasters Barbershop Chorus, was right next to its new competition. The drink, which is served in a bright green cup, is made with seltzer, ice, syrup, and a lime.

“It’s a refreshing drink,” Dwight Pensiero, a member of the chorus, said. “It’s not too sweet, it’s just right.”

A big difference between the two drinks, besides the fruits, was the price. Lime rickeys were sold for $3, while blueberry sodas cost $4. Stewart said the blueberry soda was selling well, but he didn’t have any exact numbers.

Carl Cappello, chairman of the Downeasters Barbershop Chorus, on Saturday said that the previous day the record was broken for the number of lime rickeys sold on a Friday. He said the booth netted about $1,000 more than it usually does on the festival’s first day.

Both drinks seemed to be popular among festival-goers, with plenty of people trying the new option.

“It was good,” Sheila Bartlett, of Hampden, said of the blueberry soda. “It was refreshing.”

Bob Gray, also of Hampden, said he enjoyed the new drink, too.

“It was flavorful,” he said. “I liked that there were actually blueberries at the bottom.”

Gray said one problem with the blueberry soda, though, was that it was difficult to actually eat the berries, because the straw was too narrow to suck them up.

Others said lime rickeys will always be their favorite.

“You can’t outdo the lime rickey, definitely not,” Yarmouth resident Alicia Piccirillo said.

Cappello, despite selling the lime rickeys for decades, said he enjoyed the blueberry soda and was glad to see it at the festival. Stewart said he thought the drinks worked well together.

“I think the blueberry compliments the lime rickey,” he said.

Kate Shub, the festival’s public relations director, said this year’s Clam Festival attracted about 125,000 people, which was what organizers expected. The festival ran smoothly, except for the malfunction of a carnival carousel, which resulted in the ride being shut down for a few hours on Friday morning. A toddler was injured, but required no medical attention.

The ride was operated by Smokey’s Greater Shows, which also had two incidents involving rides in Waterville last month.

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

Sidebar Elements

Yarmouth High School students Joey Fortin, left, and Caden Middleton volunteered in the football boosters booth on Saturday at the 50th Clam Festival making blueberry sodas, the festival’s newest drink.

Yarmouth resident Sean Bergen reaches for a fresh basket of uncooked clams Friday, July 17, during the 50th annual Clam Festival. Bergen was a first-time volunteer for the long-running tradition. Sales from his clam shack helped raise money for the Yarmouth ski team.

Yarmouth resident Mike Murray prepares an order of French fries Friday during the 50th annual Clam Festival. Murray, who is a long-time member of the Lion’s Club, has been volunteering for the event for more than 15 years.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.