Community organizations set up booths, selling food and drink – and most importantly, clams. Photo by Michael Leonard

The Yarmouth Clam Festival boasts a lot of old-time favorites – a Friday night parade, Saturday night fireworks, carnival rides and games, juried craft and art shows, two stages of musical entertainment, a firefighters’ muster, a clam shucking contest and, at the center of all the festivities, more than a dozen food booths fundraising for at least 35 local nonprofits.

Where else can you eat fried clams, onion rings and strawberry shortcake, wash that down with a lime Rickey and feel like you’ve kept a community thriving?

New additions to the festival include a sand-sculpture contest at Brickyard Hollow Brewing attracting eight semi-professional sculptors from around the country, a timed pie-eating contest inspired by the First Parish Church’s famous homemade pie booth, and a Sunday afternoon classic car show called the Main Street Rumble.

Steamer the clam mascot has some competition as festival favorite, thanks to Barry Williams, the star of “The Brady Bunch” as the oldest son Greg Brady. Williams will usher in this year’s board game-themed parade Friday, July 19, at 6 p.m. and will be at the clam shucking-contest the next day at 11 a.m.

Speaking of board games, Yarmouth History Center is hosting an oversized, playable Monopoly board featuring historic photos and facts about the community that has been hosting this family-oriented summer festival since 1965.

The clam festival got its start as Firemen’s Field Day, and the firefighters’ muster remains an annual tradition. Photo by Michael Leonard

The Yarmouth Clam Festival started as the Firemen’s Field Day, and the firefighters’ muster is a well-preserved tradition attracting firefighters and spectators from all over Maine and New England. On a hot summer day, nothing beats a little mist from the firehose – other than perhaps a lime Rickey, lemon Lucy or root beer float.

Another longtime festival favorite, the Sunday morning Diaper Derby, has been happening for so long that many participants are second- or even third-generation.

“It’s as cute as it sounds,” said Adrienne Nardi, executive director of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce and co-director of the Yarmouth Clam Festival. “We’ve got babies who are crawling, barely walking and moving at a good run, and their parents cheering them on.”

Nardi’s first year with the festival was in 2017, when she loaded buckets for the clam-shucking contest, drove princesses around town in a golf cart after their parade gig and stepped into the Steamer costume when she was short a volunteer.

“On Friday night, after the parade, I was coming down Main Street and walking into the Food Circle at Memorial Green when I had a movie magic moment,” she said. “The sun was setting and the fun streetlights we bring in were lit on the green. There was music playing in the entertainment tent, and I half expected to see Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. dancing like I was on the set of a romantic comedy. Very Rockwell-esque. I knew I found the right job.”

The festival spreads out over downtown Yarmouth, surrounding the intersection of Route 1 and Main Street and along the Royal River. Paid parking near the festival benefits local nonprofits. Or, if you want save your clams for the steamers, park at Garmin off Exit 17 and take a shuttle bus to the festival (except during the Friday evening rush hour, from 5-7 p.m., when the shuttle stops running).

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer from Scarborough.

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