Beattie Quintal of Waldoboro competes in the clam shucking contest at the Yarmouth Clam Festival in 2017. Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Southern Maine’s best known celebration of clams has been canceled for the second year in a row by COVID-19.

Organizers of the Yarmouth Clam Festival announced online Tuesday that the July event will not be held in 2021. The 2020 version of the festival also was canceled, along with many other outdoor summer celebrations in Maine.

Yarmouth town and chamber of commerce officials met with other organizers and decided to cancel the festival after discussing the projected course of the pandemic this summer and the safety of volunteers, staff and festival goers, according to a post on Facebook. The uncertainly of state regulations for large gatherings this summer also played into the decision.

The clam festival had been scheduled for July 16-18, but is now scheduled for July 15-17, 2022. The festival, which started in 1965 and was canceled for the first time last year, draws tens of thousands of people. Locals line their folding chairs along Main Street weeks in advance to see the festival’s famous parade.

The festival is also known for its Maine State Clam Shucking contest, the firefighter’s muster and Diaper Derby race for tiny children, among many other things. Many local organizations and youth sports teams raise money by selling clams or other food and drink at the festival.

In announcing the cancellation of the festival, organizers said they would be “looking at ways to take part in our community” without holding a physical festival this summer.

“We have some ideas up our sleeves and will keep our Yarmouth friends and family updated as we approach the summer months,” the message on the festival website read. The online message also asked people to support the festival by shopping online for Yarmouth Clam Festival gear.

Hundreds of chairs are lined up along Main Street for the Yarmouth Clam Festival parade in 2017. Photo by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

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