What do mountains of golden fried clams, strawberry shortcake piled high with fresh whipped cream, icy cold and refreshing lime rickeys and hiking have in common? Why, the fabulous Yarmouth Clam Festival and miles of wonderful walking and hiking trails in the scenic and historic village of Yarmouth of course.
The festival, set for next Friday through Sunday, has been a fun summertime tradition since 1965, drawing tens of thousands of visitors to Yarmouth for three days of fun, food, entertainment and more.
Even if you haven’t been to the festival you’ve certainly heard of it. What you might not be aware of, however, is the extensive trail system in town that features 24 miles of pathways on more than 950 acres of green space, ranging from the North Yarmouth boundary to Casco Bay.
The Yarmouth Open Space Guide is a free 30-page publication that describes in detail this abundance of parks, preserves, open spaces and trails (both land and water) to be discovered and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
“We’ve been working with the town for 10 years to acquire preserves, improve existing trails and expand the trail system,” said Alan Stearns, executive director of the Royal River Conservation Trust, which along with Yarmouth Community Services is a key partner in producing the guide, now in its third edition. “Now we’re working to connect these land-based trails to water trails on the Royal River and in Casco Bay.”
Eight spots in town have trails of a mile or more. At Royal River Park, meander through the woods and fields along the river past three waterfalls, or take to the piney woods and meadows of Pratt’s Brook Park, the town’s largest at 220 acres. Explore the salt marshes and forests of the Spear Farm Estuary Preserve, or wander the paths of Fels-Groves Farm Preserve amid acres of mature woods and open fields. Enjoy Casco Bay island views from the northeastern tip of Littlejohn Island and the 23-acre preserve there. There’s also the Frank Knight Forest, Beth Condon Pathway and Westside Trail and miles of shorter walks.
So plan to make the trek to Yarmouth for some festival-going coupled with some pretty fine hiking. Pack the daypack and hiking boots, plus the street-walking shoes and a good appetite for a most excellent and memorable outdoor excursion.
“The Yarmouth Clam Festival is the largest free admission festival in the state of Maine,” said Ben McNeboe, assistant festival director. “You can come to the festival, not spend a dime but still have a good time.”
True enough, but there’s little chance you’re be able to pass up the long line of food booths on the village green, and the fried clams (batter or crumbs), steamed clams, clam cakes, clam rolls, clam chowder, lobster dinners, yummy desserts and lots of other good stuff. Bonus: Proceeds go directly to 30 local nonprofits, whose volunteers make all the food and staff the booths.
The carnival and midway get the action going on Wednesday night, but the big parade really kicks things off on Friday evening, a 1.5-mile long extravaganza of floats, marching bands and pageantry. There’s also the arts and crafts fair, continuous live music and special events like the Pat’s Pizza 5-mile road race, canoe and kayak race, bike race and Fireman’s Muster.
“The festival is an amazing event, a real family-fun time with lots going on and a little something for everyone to enjoy,” noted McNeboe.
Indeed. And when mixed up with miles of great walking, the Yarmouth Clam Festival and Yarmouth Open Spaces combine for a terrific adventure.
Download the Yarmouth Open Space Guide at www.yarmouthcommunityservices.org, get the complete Yarmouth Clam Festival schedule at clamfestival.com, and learn more about the Royal River Conservation Trust at www.rrct.org.
Carey Kish of Bowdoin is editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Follow Carey’s adventures in his Maineiac Outdoors blog at: