ROCKLAND, Maine — The 65th annual Maine Lobster Festival will kick off at noon Wednesday along Rockland’s waterfront.

Promoters are hoping that good weather and Maine’s most valuable seafood product will make the 2012 edition of the annual summer event another success.

Tim Carroll, president of the festival board, said Monday the biggest change this year is the switch of days for the Family Fun Day when admission to the festival is free. The free day traditionally has been Wednesday but was changed to Sunday for this year’s event.

Carroll said there has been criticism from some people about the change but that the festival directors felt that more local people would be able to avail themselves of the activities on Sunday rather than on a day during the workweek.

“They can enjoy a whole day of family events,” Carroll said.

The festival also will be giving a boost to the beleaguered lobster industry by buying around 20,000 pounds of the crustacean. The record year was a few years ago when 26,000 pounds were consumed at the five-day festival.

“We’re here to promote the Rockland area and promote lobster,” Carroll said.

The gates to the festival open at noon Wednesday. Admission on Wednesday is $5 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger.

Wednesday will see the coronation of the Maine Sea Goddess. Eighteen young women are vying for the crown.

There will be live music, a crafts tent for children and numerous vendors and carnival rides. The price of tickets for the rides is not included in the admission price. Carnival bracelet days will be on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, beginning at noon, where for $15 a child can get a bracelet to ride for the day.

The parade starts at 10 a.m. Saturday from Oceanside High School East on Broadway to the main entrance of the festival grounds on Main Street.

A 10-kilometer road race and children’s one-mile fun run will be held Sunday morning.

A full schedule is available at