YARMOUTH — In a town of 9,000 that for one weekend each year accommodates upwards of 120,000, pulling off the annual Clam Festival is the product of months of preparation and a few dozen unsung heroes.
From the Chamber of Commerce and town staff to local craftsmen and business owners, the three-day festival requires all hands on deck. Last weekend’s 53rd annual Clam Festival was no exception.
But, have you ever wondered how, with so many attendees, Main Street doesn’t become littered with confetti and 13,500 lime rickey cups.
If you haven’t, it’s may be because you’ve never had a reason to, thanks to the “Trash(less) Dogs.”
For at least 15 years, the Yarmouth Lacrosse Booster Club has helped handle all things trashy at the festival, including recyclables, returnables and now compostables. The club works with the chamber, the Recycling Committee, ecomaine and We Compost It.
Each year, the crew is stationed under a tent on Memorial Green, among the crowds of festival-goers waiting in line for their clam cakes and lobster rolls.
On Friday afternoon before the festival parade, the tent was manned by athletes, parents, and Yarmouth High School boys’ head coach David Pearl, working the 3-6 p.m. shift in their light blue Trash(less) Dogs T-shirts. On all sides of the tent stood trash barrels – red for returnables, blue for recycling and green for compostables, each with a sign noting what should be thrown in them.
When signs failed, a Trash(less) Dog would jump in with a pair of gloves and tongs to remove the contaminant and put it in the proper bin.
“This is the highest-trafficked area, so we figure it makes the most sense to catch people here, dropping their trays off,” parent Andrew Thornton said. “… People are very confused around what can be composted and what can’t. Not all of it’s intuitive.”
He added that a large part of the initiative is the educational component, both for the public and the Trash(less) Dogs.
“There’s a lot of interest in it,” he said. “And we’ve certainly learned a lot from it.”
High school junior Max Polstein said he sees the most confusion around what can be composted, which is important because it “helps cut down on the amount of trash.”
Throughout town, the Trash(less) Dogs set up about 25 additional unmanned, four-bin stations, which they’d would empty throughout each day of the festival.
Thornton said he loses track of how many times each barrel needs to be emptied and replaced, but estimated about 2-3 times every couple of hours.
Although sorting through trash might not be the first way anyone would choose to spend an afternoon at the Clam Festival, the crew was in high spirits, joking with each another and engaging folks in the process when they came by to toss their trash.
“It’s certainly a chore … (but) it’s something we see as the right thing to do and the (composting) will hopefully keep happening more and more,” Thornton said.
Jared Noyes, another junior on the lacrosse team, said helping people sort their trash was “awkward” at times, but all things considered, he didn’t mind the work.
“I work as a dishwasher at Pat’s (Pizza), so I’m kind of used to it,” he said with a laugh.
All of the proceeds from returnables collected at the festival go to the lacrosse program. Thorton’s wife and booster club co-president, Maura, said it averages between $450 and $500 a year.
The club also raises money at the festival from parking fees at the KeyBank and Sparhawk parking lots.
“Clam Festival is largely responsible for the funding of both the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse programs,” Pearl said. “… We don’t do much else in terms of fundraising throughout the year.”
In a follow-up email sent to families and volunteers, Maura Thornton said she’s received an “abundance of positive feedback and thanks” from people who appreciate what the club does.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Adrienne Nardi said the Trash(less) Dogs certainly lived up to their name this year, with just over two and a quarter tons of compost waste removed.
“Knowing that it was going to be a great program, I still can’t help to be impressed with the level of commitment and dedication the team showed,” Nardi said on July 24.
“Even more inspiring news is that We Compost It was so impressed with our sorting and attention to detail with the composting, they are able to use all of our materials to compost,” Thornton added. “It is a win-win, raising money to support our lacrosse programs, all the while doing our part to save the earth.”
For at least 15 years, the Yarmouth Lacrosse Booster Club has been managing Clam Festival trash collection from their post at the center of Memorial Green.
Jared Noyes explains the four-bin station, which includes barrels for trash, recycling, compost and returnables, to a Yarmouth Clam Festival patron on July 20.
Jared Noyes, left, Andrew Thornton, Sam Polstein, James Hook, David Jordan, Max Polstein and David Pearl make up the Friday afternoon “Trash(less) Dogs” crew at this year’s Yarmouth Clam Festival.
Spectators several rows deep await the start of the Friday-night parade at the 53rd Yarmouth Clam Festival on July 20. (Dudley Warner / For The Forecaster)
North Yarmouth Academy’s Main Street lawn draws Clam Festival visitors, hopping from tent to tent for the work of artists and craftsmen.
Artwork displayed at this year’s Clam Festival catches the eye of a young art connoisseur.
Amanda Bolduc, a stakeholder in Brickyard Hollow Brewing Co., draws attention to the brewery, which opened last month, with a sand sculpture she said took about 12 hours to create. Bolduc competes in sculpting competitions throughout the nation, using sand and snow.