Saturday, July 17, 2010

2010 Yarmouth Clam Festival

Today was the long awaited Yarmouth Clam Festival, a tradition in Southern Maine every year. I am sure it's got to be one of the biggest festivals in Maine. The Clam Festival was what I missed most about Maine the last two summers; it was always just such a part of my growing up experience that I hated to miss it. I've been looking forward to it for at least six weeks and despite all my nerves, had quite a good time in the six hours N, R, R, I and various other AS group members spent there today.

Nate picked me up and we arrived there at about 1. Or, I arrived at 1, the rest arrived around 1:30, which is kind of a longer story. It was so exciting to see the street with people lining both sides of it (waiting for some kind of firefighter demonstration), and the famous HUGE food court with its red and white lettering to one side. Fried Clams! Strawberry Shortcake! Fried Dough! Soda! etc. There are probably about 20 stands and they go in a semi circle around a picnic eating area. On one side is a tent where concerts go on called the Memorial Green.

On the other side were the rides, and tons of them. What sheer eye candy! I walked around snappy pictures, trying to capture the essence of the amusement park, the essence of the spirit pervading the place, the joy and action, the colors and fast speeds. The cotton candy, candy apples and fried dough mixed in with the arcade games and colorful, whirling, spinning, as fast as the eye can see, guaranteed to make you barf rides. It's an interesting kind of meditation to be wandering around not focusing on the rides themselves, but on documenting them in pictures. It's relaxing, actually, and that area of the Clam Festival, with its long line of games on one side, is always fun to wander.

I wandered back to the area with the food, and ran into Nate and the group without even trying to. Pretty surprising in a place as big as this. We got some chairs and sat for a bit while we waited for No Banjos, the 2pm concert, to start. A fellow Aspie group member was in the band.

I have to say it was relaxing, to sit there in the shade in a comfortable chair, with friends, and listen to good music. It was covers of 60s classics,mostly British. It was too short - only 6 or 7 songs - but fun. When they did Last Train to Clarksville by the Monkees, I got up and danced, as I love that song; Nate even got a picture. It was followed by a high activitiy up-tempo Beatles song (maybe All My Loving but I can't remember) which I enjoyed just as much. The rest were down-tempo and mostly unfamiliar, so I stayed seated, except to go to the front to snap pictures of the band. :)

At 3, we went over to the rides to explore. There was this super awesome thing I found on my first walk through - they put you in huge plastic bubbles!!! and put the bubbles in the water in a large swimming pool. They put you in, zipped you up, and then inflated the bubble with air! You could then roll around the pool . I actually thought it looked like it COULD be a lot of fun but the idea of being trapped in a giant plastic bubble was a bit too claustrophobic to consider. It was, however, a LOT of fun to watch, and I was very pleased when both N and R agreed to go in!
Snapping shots of them in their plastic bubbles was just awesome, a creative challenge, lol. Never seen that before, must be the new thing.

We tried to get tickets for the ferris wheel; however after a long drawn out process to find and buy the damn things, the one ride I wanted to go on was closed. Oh well. Some of us got things to eat and we headed to the games. There were 5 new Aspie group members I had never met there , well, I think only 2 who stayed with us but still. 3 of us tried the balloon dart game, which has always been my favorite. One of the other girls said to me "I'm just doing this because this is what I used to do when I was a kid," and I said, "I'm doing it for the exact same reason!" I got a big fat red balloon on my 2nd try. The very friendly older operator of the game gave A and I the kids' rate even though we were both in our 20s, lol - so we both got a medium sized very cute stuffed dog and as many tries as we needed to get it! :) Best, and by that I mean least crappiest and certainly biggest, arcade prize I've ever gotten.

We then headed uphill to the craft festival. Fortunately, the hill was not as formidable as I remembered it, nor the weather as torturous as I had feared. The craft festival, while still as big as ever, was actually quite boring, but this was all the more for the better - I only had 40 min to get back to the Blaine concert, so "boring" was welcome for once.

We sat down to relax for 15 min before we trekked down the hill again for the Blaine Larsen concert. Or shall I say, I trekked down. They got stuck somewhere halfway down and I left them in the dust in my eagerness to see my beloved Blaine. :)

Blaine Larsen is a 24 year old country singer who first hit it big about 6 years ago with his haunting song "How Do You Get That Lonely," a follow- up to the just as amazing , goosebump producing "In My High School." When I was in college, I got a friend to take me to see him at a local mall and it is one of my happiest memories of college. It was a very intimate concert of only maybe 30 gathered around in a decrepit, falling down mall to see an extrodinary singer.
I loved it.

So when I heard, a couple weeks ago, that Blaine would be at the Clam Festival FOR FREE, in another small intimate setting, I just about went crazy. I had eagerly awaited it for weeks and couldn't wait to tear down that hill and get to Blaine. Finding a place to sit was difficult at first, but ultimately prosperous. I started on the bleachers on one side, discovered we were permitted to stand at the side and watch him from 2 ft away, went back to bleachers to rest, and ended up watching him from an even closer distance on the other side of the stage for his last song. Not bad!

He started with some song I didn't know...then went into I Don't What She Said, which I did know...1-2 more songs I didn't really know (his voice still sounded good but I much prefer familiar songs), then into "It Did," a song I really like. I ran to the side for that so I could get a good view and have room to move around and sing along. :) After that I felt better cus I figured whatever he sang after I'd at least gotten one good song in. He did a couple more ones I didn't know, THEN, came the moment I had been waiting for. "This is my very first song that ever went to radio, about 6 yrs ago, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for this song..." My ears perked up and I ran back to the front from where I had been sitting.... it was time for the hauntingly beautiful "How do you get that lonely." I saw him sing it 6 yrs ago in Baltimore, and now the circle was complete by seeing him sing it again in my home state of Maine.

He finaled, of course, with his current single of "Chillin'", a popp-ish summer kind of song that has caught on mostly because it is a pop-ish summer song that doesn't make you think. Not my favorite song, but a decent one still. I was right in front of the stage snapping a picture when someone (from his staff) came out and dropped a huge tin of water on him! It was a joke because the song was about "Chilling." Everyone laughed. Blaine said, "Oh, so is THAT why you asked me how expensive my guitar was earlier?"

He then resumed the song, to much applause when he was finished. 50 min approx. Great show overall. Then it was time for autograph signing - I was one of the first to get to the WPOR table in the back, so I got very lucky - I noticed people were getting their pictures taken with him so I called Nate and asked him to come over and take a picture of me with him. Which actually worked! I didn't even have to wait that long, and I got to talk to him - I told him I' been at the Baltimore/Towson show and he said "Wow, that was a long time ago" and that I liked the song In My High School; he thanked me profusely. Then I asked for a picture and N got a great one! In my head last night I was dreaming about how cool it would be to have a picture taken with him but I didn't think it would actually happen!

Kate with Blaine Larsen!

It was too late after Blaine to do the other 60s concert or any rides, which was fine cus I was pretty tired by then. So we sat by the food and chatted for a bit before we left. We were all pretty tired.

I enjoyed the feeling of connection, of having other people to do stuff with. It was funny trying to do it with a group of 8!!! But we all moved together very well actually an people got along too.
At any given point we were always trying to figure out where someone was ("Where's N? Where's R?") lol but we found each other and reunited pretty quickly. It was a nice feeling of belonging to even have people to worry about missing in the first place.

So, I returned to the house hot, tired and more sunburnt than when I left - although not signficantly so - but overall happy, although it took some time to process this all.

Ready for several days of relaxing, I hope, and returning to a normal sleep schedule. Weather still hot, challenges still many, but I hope to use days like this, as overwhelming on some levels as they can be, to propel me forward and give me something to look forward to during those times when everything else seems to be going badly.

Happy middle of only six weeks left of (yay) summer.

Kate playing with darts


  1. Kate, what a wonderful account of your experience at the Clam Festival! So glad to know you had such a good time. And nice photos, too! Would you mind if we posted some of them on our Facebook page and website -- with a credit to you, of course? -- Steamer

  2. Hi Steamer, thank you for your comment on my blog. Yes, of course you can use my pictures, although if you want any of the bubble shots I should probably ask my friends for permission to use them first. If you want to see more pics I took (like 100 more and some good ones), look on my Facebook photo album and my Blaine Larsen album And please let me know when you have pictures on the site if you do use them so I can see. :) Thanks.

  3. What a great-looking festival! I love all your photos and descriptions. Sounds like such fun!