The Yartmouth Clam Festival is returning after a two-year hiatus.
The Yarmouth Clam Festival is back after taking the last two years off due to COVID-19. Credit: CBS 13

A longtime Maine tradition is coming back after two years of COVID-19 closures.

Chairs are already lined up for the Yarmouth Clam Festival after being canceled for the last two years due to COVID-19.

Officials expect more than 80,000 people to come to next weekend’s festival, which runs July 15-17.

“People are really excited for this year and it’s really kind of bringing that sense of normalcy, you know, that we all, you know, that we’ve all kind of needed and wanted over the last couple of years,” interim Yarmouth Clam Festival Director Chelsie DiConzo said.

DiConzo said there will be a few changes this year to prepare for the larger crowds.

For example, there will be a section for people to take a break at the library, plus an expanded kids and family area.

“We’re going to have … a family care tent, where mothers can nurse their kids, a changing table for parents and kind of like, a quiet space, to kind of take a breath from the festival,” DiConzo said.

Preparing for the crowd just a few hundred feet away is the restaurant Gather. There’s a new summer menu, with a break from seafood for clam festivalgoers.

“We have this awesome grilled porkchop,” Gather owner Christa Cole said. “It’s local pork, it’s got pomegranate cherries and a hazelnut thyme crumb.”

The restaurant typically only serves dinner on Fridays but will be partnering with a local beer company from 2-4 p.m. on July 15 for the festival.

Cole was shocked when she heard how many people are expected but is confident they are prepared.

“We’re staffed right now, so we’re feeling very fortunate and we’re just going to prepare as much as we possibly can and hopefully that will be enough,” Cole said.

There will be 80 different types of food at the festival, including 6,000 pounds of clams and 6,000 lobster rolls. In order to run it all, DiConzo said they need 3,000 volunteers and more are still needed.