The Maine Lobster Festival announced Monday that the annual “Maine Sea Goddess” contest — a 75-year coastal Maine tradition — will not be happening at this year’s festival, which is scheduled for Aug. 2-6.
The Sea Goddess pageant will be replaced by the “Sea Delegate” pageant — a contest that will be open to all genders.
“The traditional role of Maine Sea Goddess will now be known as Maine Lobster Festival Delegate, and is open to ALL young people who are passionate about advocating for Maine’s lobster industry, regardless of gender,” festival organizers said on their Facebook page.
“We also dropped the minimum age to 16 so more students can have the opportunity to participate,” they said.
Maine’s Lobster Festival is a sprawling annual party, with music, craft fairs, a parade, and tons of events for kids.
The Festival also includes an annual crate race, where participants run as far as they can over the tops of floating lobster crates.
That contest has always been open to all genders.
Not everyone in Maine greeted the change with joy.
“76 years it’s been the Maine Sea Goddess, the union fair tried the same and it didn’t work out, stop changing traditions to follow politics,” Trevor J. Bates commented.
In response to criticism, the festival organizers wrote the following:
In the past few years, we’ve had waning interest from young women to enter the contest. We made this change based on a survey and meetings of feedback from the students that we honor with this event. They wanted it to be more about their ideas and less about looks, and inclusive. They also didn’t like the idea of escorts or being paired the way two winners would do, one winner is clearer. They also wanted more prize money.
The entrance fee for this year is $100, and the winning price will now be $2,000.