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(NECN: Amy Sinclair) – The arrival of King Neptune marks the start of the annual Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, but this year the God of the Sea emerged with a pointed message.
"Let’s eat, let’s get this industry back on its feet here. Let’s go," Neptune says.
Record low lobster prices – now retailing uncooked for just $3 a pound in some spots – have hit Maine’s 5,000 licensed lobstermen and their families hard this summer.
Lobstermen say the reason for the low prices is the result of the weather. Mild temperatures brought soft shell lobsters closer to shore early in the season before tourists were here to gobble them up, and many processing plants weren't online yet so they couldn't handle the extra meat.
The festival helps first and foremost in a direct way, since some 20,000 pounds of lobster will be steamed and served up over the next five days.
"Economics. Supply and demand. If we can take 20,000 pounds off the market, hopefully that helps them in the long run as well," said Lobster Festival President Tim Carroll.
And reflecting market conditions, the festival has actually dropped its prices for the first time anyone can remember. A basic lobster dinner is down from $14 to $12 dollars, while the triple lobster dinner will cost a festival goer $29, down from $35 last year.
But the festival’s reach goes beyond the crustacean carnage that's going on under the tent.
It reinforces people’s love affair with the luscious food, reminding them to buy it, or send it home to loved ones.