Yarmouth Clam Festival preps for 50th anniversary

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YARMOUTH — This year’s Clam Festival on July 17-19 will have all the usual attractions: a big parade, craft show, and of course, the food.

There will be some significant differences, though.

The 50th anniversary of the festival will be marked this year with bigger fireworks, an emphasis on the festival’s history, and a special concert featuring the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

At its core, though, the festival will be the same as always.

“People will come and they may recognize new things, or they may not,” Carolyn Schuster, executive director of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, said. “It won’t be screaming ’50, 50, 50.'”

The small touches celebrating the anniversary will be worked into the usual events seen at the festival, Schuster said this week.

The theme of the parade is Flashback Friday. Schuster said she knows of some float ideas already, such as Woodstock and space exploration.

“Anything from the past 50 years is fair game,” she said.

A major difference in the parade this year is a $500 cash prize, which will be given to the float that best fits the theme.

“We’ve never given a cash prize, but we thought this would be a good year to do it,” Schuster said.

Also new this year will be a concert by the Portland Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra will perform with Dave Mallett and the Mallett Brothers Band, who will also each have separate performances, on July 18. The orchestra, Mallett, and the band will play the band’s music, which has been orchestrated by Ben Birkbeck of Studio B.

Schuster and festival director Mark Primeau said they are excited about having the orchestra.

“The PSO is really the big thing,” Primeau said.

Fundraisers will help underwrite the PSO’s appearance, including a July 1 Portland Sea Dogs game, where a portion of ticket sales will benefit the festival.

The Chamber of Commerce also has limited-edition 50th anniversary T-shirts, which are available for $50. Special lawn chairs are also being sold; they feature a clam festival logo, and chair owners will get VIP seating at the PSO concert.

The chairs are $100 each and as of Monday, Schuster said, 58 of the 100 had been sold. They are available, along with the T-shirts, on the clam festival website.

“We anticipate they’ll sell out,” she said.

The Yarmouth Historical Society will also be hosting special clam festival events this year. The society is creating an exhibit of the festival’s history, which will be on display from July 16-18. Schuster said it will feature festival artifacts, previous clam festival t-shirts, and old articles written about the festival.

A full schedule of all events happening at the clam festival can be found on its website.

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

Sidebar Elements

The poster for the 50th anniversary Yarmouth Clam Festival, “Yarmouth Clam Now and Forever,” was created by local artist Solvejg Makaretz.

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.