A chat with the folks who make the Festival their summer destination

Steins & Vines draws huge crowd of happy beer and wine drinkers

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 12:15pm

ROCKLAND — It was hotter than a billy goat with a blow torch at the 71st Maine Lobster Festival, but that didn’t bother Will and Alex McGuinness, who traveled all the way up to Maine from Houston, Texas.

“To me, this is a nice and cool day,” said Will. “At least it’s not quite as bad as it is in Texas.”

With McGuiness’ parents in the Northeast, they timed their visit to coincide with the Maine Lobster Festival.

“We absolutely love lobster and it’s been on our list for a few years,” said Will.

Alex McGuiness tried her first lobster, a pound and a quarter and was told, by someone likely pulling her leg, that it takes 15 years for a lobster to grow that size. (The truth is, it really only takes approximately 5-7 years.) There is much debate among locals on the “right” way to eat a lobster. In fact, Pen Bay Pilot has a tutorial for those who are still unsure. But, being an “outer-stater,” McGuiness, to her credit,  went for the tail first, the claws last and even tackled the walking legs. And when it came to the tomalley, she didn’t get squeamish and removed it herself.

The couple attended the Festival’s popular Steins & Vines event on Thursday, August 2, sampling some of the Midcoast’s best craft brews and wines.

The real debate that night was whether the complimentary bag of Lays lobster-flavored chips actually tasted like a lobster roll. According to several people interviewed, it tasted like sour cream and Lawry’s seasoning.

Jessica Clary, of Atlanta, Georgia, is a journalism professor. Up for the entire five days of the Festival with her family, Clary said, The Maine Lobster Festival played a part in her MFA thesis, which extrapolated on David Foster Wallace’s essay “Consider The Lobster.”

“I wrote a personal narrative about my relationship with food pop culture and music and Wallace’s article about the Maine Lobster Festival stuck with me,” she said.

Asked if she had gone on any of the carnival rides, she looked over at one that whose cars undulated up and around like a mechanical caterpillar.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “That looks like something my Mom would talk me into doing, then she would scream the entire time.”

Asked if she’d tried lobster yet, she said, “I haven’t yet, but that is what I’m here for. I’m working on it. I’ve been to those fancy restaurants, where they crack all of the shells for you.”

In response to that, a small crowd of people listening to this conversation all simultaneously said, ”Nawwwwwww.”

It was gently explained to Clary that if you’re in Maine, you get that lobster and you do all of the work yourself. Because that’s how Mainers are.

“Interesting,” she replied. “Good culture.”

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com