ROCKLAND — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may have, temporarily, disrupted the annual tradition of the Maine Lobster Festival, but it will not disrupt the annual crowning of a Maine Sea Goddess.
Despite canceling the 2020 Lobster Festival amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maine Lobster Festival is still searching for, and planning to crown, its 2020 Maine Sea Goddess.
“Our president and executive board have met with state and local officials, our board has been monitoring CDC, federal and state guidelines, and we feel that the safest strategy for everyone is to cancel the 2020 festival,” the festival’s board of directors wrote in an April 28 news release. “We will miss seeing our tens of thousands of guests, our thousand plus volunteers, our artists, vendors and business partners, and all of our local neighbors.”
Organizers felt it was important, they said May 14, to continue with the Sea Goddess tradition despite the cancellation since the festival is rooted in community spirit and tradition.
“We felt that though the larger event is canceled, we are still able to celebrate with our community in a smaller scale,” said Coronation Committee Chairman Dan Flaherty. “So much has been taken away from the graduating seniors, young adults and our community, this is our way to bring a positive light to a tough situation.”
The committee noted May 14 planning is still underway for the coronation event that will need to follow local, state and federal guidelines amid the pandemic and will be different than how the festival has traditionally celebrated the coronation.
Applications for Sea Goddess, a position crowned annually by the festival since 1948, will be accepted until the extended deadline of June 13 and sponsorship requirements have been waived.
In ordinary times, the Sea Goddess is, usually, required, after the coronation, to mingle daily on the festival grounds, ride in the festival’s parade and participate at events such as the Union Fair/Maine Blueberry Festival Coronation, Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts, Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce Tree Lighting Ceremony, Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce Festival of Lights Parade, Thomaston Fourth of July parade, Yarmouth Clam Festival parade and, lastly, open the following year’s lobster festival and appear on stage at the following year’s Sea Goddess coronation.
Sea Goddess recipients are also encouraged to consider participating in other events such as the Boston International Seafood Show, Rockland’s Memorial Day parade, lobster boat races, Boothbay Windjammer Days parade, Friendship Sloop Days parade and Warren Days parade.
“In preparation for the 2020 Coronation, we had made significant changes to the required events the Sea Goddess and Crown Princess were to attend,” Flaherty said, May 14. “The pandemic has made an impact on the number of events they will attend in 2020, but we plan to continue to monitor local events (Winter Solstice, Parade of Lights, Tree Lighting, and regional/state 2021 events) as a way to get them involved. We want this to be as memorable, simple and safe as possible while being mindful that things can change.”
Flaherty also noted many of the events the Sea Goddess and Crown Princess are asked to attend are held during times when school is not in session as the women, historically, are enrolled at higher education institutions during their reign.
The Lobster Festival board of directors looks forward to resuming the Lobster Festival August 4-8, 2021.