Almost a month after this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Sea Goddess alleged she was forced to step down, festival officials are releasing more details on what led to the decision.
Taylor Hamlin was named the 2018 Sea Goddess on Aug. 1 and claimed she was stripped of her crown the next day for social media posts. Lobster Festival officials maintain she resigned.
On Monday night, the Lobster Festival Board of Directors met to discuss the 2018 festival. The meeting focused largely on the controversy surrounding the Sea Goddess coronation and aftermath, according to a statement released by the board.
Since the Lobster Festival’s inception 71 years ago, a coronation has been held in which young women from local towns compete as Sea Princesses, vying for the title of Sea Goddess.
The statement elaborates on the situation surrounding Hamlin’s loss of the crown.
“Immediately after the coronation, our committee chair began receiving several messages indicating that the public persona on social media of our Sea Goddess was something to be concerned about,” the statement said.
According to the statement, festival officials received eight photos posted by Hamlin “that illustrate illegal behavior and a pride in that behavior and persona.”
Of most concern, according to the statement, was a post by Hamlin that mentioned the Lobster Festival and coronation, “along with an inappropriate image.” The statement does not elaborate on what made the image inappropriate.
After receiving the photos, festival officials met with Hamlin three times to discuss how the behavior demonstrated hinders “the ability to fulfill the duties of the role of Sea Goddess.” In two of the meetings Hamlin allegedly took responsibility for her actions, according to the statement.
In the meetings, officials indicated that they would not discuss the specifics around what happened to “protect her privacy and dignity,” the statement said. However, Hamlin “then opted to post publicly online the reasons along with misinformation about the photographs.”
In a post on Facebook on Aug. 3, Hamlin said she was stripped of her crown for photos sent to festival officials and that she had “never felt more swept under the rug.”
“Everybody is a teen once and awhile. I’m sorry to whoever didn’t receive the goddess they wanted and felt the need to sabotage this amazing thing that has happened to me. You clearly don’t know me well enough or know the real Taylor Hamlin. I am active throughout our community, in sports, church, and school,” Hamlin wrote.
In the statement, the board said there will be changes to the Sea Goddess application guidelines and vetting process, as well as changes to the communication during the time leading up to the coronation.
“This is a terribly difficult situation with lessons learned on all sides,” the statement said. “Actions taken to keep information private were intended to protect Taylor. However, it’s clear that it has polarized the community, which was never our intention and for that we are deeply regretful.”
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