ROCKLAND — The Maine Lobster Festival Board faced sharp criticism Tuesday night from the public over its removal of the Sea Goddess nearly two months ago.

Board members were adamant that everyone needed to look ahead and prepare for the 2019 edition of the Festival. But Board members were divided on whether to continue with a coronation of a Sea Goddess or replace it with a talent show open to young men and women or some other competitive program.

The conference room at the Maine Lighthouse Museum was packed Sept. 25 as the Festival Board held its first public meeting since the Aug. 2 resignation of Sea Goddess Taylor Hamlin after the executive board voted to seek her removal over photographs she posted online that it said were inappropriate.

While Board members wanted to look forward, several speakers said the Festival officials still owed Hamlin an apology for its forced removal of her on Aug. 2, the day after the coronation.

Former Knox County Probate Judge and retired attorney and Festival volunteer Barry Faber said the Board’s handling of the Sea Goddess removal was “shameful.”

He said the Board took advantage of the teenager by forcing her to resign without giving her due process. He said there were no written rules for Sea Goddess candidates and thus no rules she could have violated.


“What was done will be remembered for many, many years, well after we are all dead,” Faber said.

Faber also criticized the Board for refusing to identify the person who provided them with the so-called inappropriate photographs.

Adele Faber said accusers should not hide and said the Board made up rules after the fact in order to get rid of the Sea Goddess.

Former coronation chair Sharon Lombardo said the Sea Goddess is supposed to be an ambassador for the Festival and be above reproach. Lombardo said the young women who are Sea Princesses are told that verbally during the competition process.

“While it’s not in writing, it’s relayed to them,” Lombardo said.

Resident Steve Carroll said what the Board did was not just to Hamlin but to the entire community. He said the public was getting nothing but excuses and diversions. He called for the resignation of the entire executive board and the full board.


Festival Board President Cynthia Powell questioned who would run the Festival if all 28 volunteer Board members resigned. She said the Board members volunteer countless hours and take their vacations during Festival week to help make the event happen.

Board member Peter Smith reacted to Carroll’s call by asking him how much morality he had.

“Our decision was based on morality,” Smith said. “We want the Goddess to have a certain amount of morality.”

Board member Bob Bird said the decision was not made by the Board but by an individual who made not smart decisions and put the Festival in the difficult position.

“She has to be held responsible for what she did,” Bird said.

Powell said the person who provided the Festival with the photographs that led to the removal of the Sea Goddess will remain anonymous because that person wants to remain anonymous.


Hamlin’s mother Cindi Hamlin said the Board vetted her daughter after the fact but did not do the same for any of the other candidates.

Powell made reference to the ongoing confirmation process for Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. She said actions by teenagers can affect them later in life.

Carroll said an apology by the Board would be appropriate. None was offered at the meeting.

Powell said everyone needed to look forward.

Board members discussed possible changes to the coronation.

Board member Celia Knight suggested holding a talent contest for young men and women.


Instead of a Sea Goddess who would represent the Festival at other regional events, Knight said Board members could serve as ambassadors.

Powell said she would support a hybrid system in which an ambassador would be selected from young men or women in the area.

Knight said the interest in the current pageant has been shrinking each year and significant changes were needed.

“We can’t keep doing the same old-fashioned thing every year,” Knight said.

Lombardo disagreed, saying there always ebb and tides in the pageant and that currently the pageant was at a valley but would peak again.

Lombardo said the pageant is a tradition that should continue.

Powell said changes were needed.

“We’re almost two decades into the 21st Century. We have to look at how the pageant is perceived.”

Powell said additional meetings were needed on changes to the pageant and said a workshop should be held.

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