In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled both the Yarmouth Clam Festival and Maine Maple Sunday, two major events that thousands of people in the state look forward to.
This year, Maine Maple Sunday will return for the weekend of March 27-28.
“We were praying it would happen,” said Kristi Brannen, the owner of Spring Break Maple & Honey in Smyrna.
Brannen said not having the event last year cost her “several thousands” of dollars and was a “let-down emotionally.”
“It was just sad. The whole maple season was the strangest maple season I’ve ever seen – the fact that I had no one coming into the sugar house and asking if we were boiling,” she explained.
This year, Brannen says she has had customers coming in and asking about Maine Maple Sunday.
Despite changes that will have to be made, which include not allow customers into areas like candy kitchens and not handing out free samples, Brannen and her team are, “superexcited.”
Hundreds of miles to the south in Yarmouth, the organizers of the Yarmouth Clam Festival are finding themselves in a situation more similar to 2020.
Once again, the full festival is canceled due to safety concerns over bringing hundreds of thousands of people into the town center for packed events.
“Certainly there’s more disappointment this year because it’s such a nostalgic event for so many people,” said Scott LaFlamme, the economic development director for the Town of Yarmouth.
LaFlamme said local nonprofits and booster clubs are among the people most at a loss without the festival. Town statistics show it gives them a $200,000 to $400,000 boost.
However, Yarmouth’s Chamber of Commerce is hoping to lessen the blow on those groups, craftspeople who sell items at the festival and area businesses by adapting some of the clam festivals activities for 2021 realities.
“We’re working for a smaller or more manageable function that provides maybe more direct impact to the business community,” LaFlamme said.
While exact plans for those activities are still in the works, LaFlamme said ideas include a virtual 5K race and drive-up locations to buy traditional festival snacks and a drive-in fireworks display.
No matter what, chairs will be placed along the parade route as they were last year.