YARMOUTH – Steve Dunn of Auburn grew up in Maine, but Saturday was the first time he ever attended the Yarmouth Clam Festival.

Dunn, who was accompanied by his wife, son and mother-in-law, said he decided this year that he couldn’t pass it up after hearing about the celebrity clam-shucking contest featuring local radio and TV personalities.

“We thought we would check it out,” said Dunn.

Dunn was one of hundreds of people who gathered to watch one of the perennial favorites at Yarmouth’s annual homage to the tasty bivalve. The clam-shucking contest draws some of the largest crowds at the three-day event, which continues in downtown Yarmouth through today.

The contest, which features three levels of competition, involves the removal of the slimy contents from the shell in one piece.

It is easier said than done. Professionals can shuck about 25 clams a minute while the rest of the world averages about half a dozen or less a minute.

Master of ceremonies Phil Harriman tried to entice volunteers from the crowd to shuck in the amateur competition.

“It is a lot of fun. If you haven’t done it before, it is even more fun,” said Harriman, a Yarmouth native who has emceed the contest for many years.

Harriman, who served as festival director in the past, said he keeps coming back to volunteer because of the way the festival creates community spirit.

“There are people of all different political philosophies who for three days a year put them aside and all work together,” said Harriman.

Joe and Liz Henkel of South Berwick said the clam shucking is a must-see event.

“And after this, there is all the food to choose from,” said Liz Henkel.

The free festival was expected to draw more 100,000 visitors from 32 states and 13 foreign countries, thanks to sunny skies and comfortable temperatures.

The celebration features more than 40 musical acts and entertainers, 165 crafters and artists and an old-fashioned firemen’s muster. In its 47th year, the festival benefits 35 community organizations.

But the festival’s star attraction is the food, served up by the town’s community organizations. Visitors have their choice of fried clams, steamers, clam cakes, clam strips and clam chowder. The menu also includes fried shrimp, fried scallops, lobster dinners, homemade pies, lime rickeys and other goodies.

“I have to have the clam cakes and a lime rickey to start out,” said Dale Stair of Cumberland, a longtime fan of the festival.

The festival continues today with a full slate of activities beginning with flapjack and blueberry pancake breakfasts at 7:10 a.m.

A full schedule of events is available online at clamfestival.com.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

 


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