Destinations for summer vacations are numerous but few compare to Rockland, Maine. Recently recognized by Budget Travel as one of “Coolest Small Towns in America”, the citizens of Rockland take great pride in their community.
Rockland was first chartered back in 1854 and it grew quickly. This rapid growth was due to the booming industries of shipbuilding and lime manufacturing. In fact, Rockland became one of the top producers of lime and ships in the entire Northeast United States. Rockland’s history as a tourist destination dates back to the 1870’s. Resorts and hotels sprang up everywhere and the travel boom lasted until the great depression when it suffered a decline. Tourism came back to Rockland in the 1990’s as people discovered this beautiful coastal city. Rockland is home to unique shops, resturants, attractions and breathtaking vistas.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to soak in the scenery or just looking to hit the major sites and attractions, Rockland has your entertainment covered. Any trip to Rockland should include a boat tour of the harbor and the surrounding area. The coastline is breathtaking and you’ll get the opportunity to see a variety of sea and wildlife. The local parks are lush, well maintained, and perfect for almost any outdoor activity or sport. Historical sites, buildings and museums can be found all over the area. These locations will give you an up close look at the rich history that formed Rockland. A perfect way to experience the city and its people is during one of the big community events, like the ever popular North Atlantic Blues Festival.
Well into its third decade, the North Atlantic Blues Festival is one of the top blues music themed events in the region. This is an all ages show that is great for couples, families and anyone interested in having a good time, while enjoying the countries best blues music. Food and refreshments will be on hand for everyone to purchase and enjoy. In addition to the festival there will be a club crawl and other fun activities in which you can partake. Make sure to bring a lawn chair and sun screen because this event is held outdoors at the beautiful Harbor Park, right in downtown. We got the chance to interview Paul Benjamin, Representative for the North Atlantic Blues Festival, to talk about this unique music experience.
RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.
PB: This will be the 23rd year of the North Atlantic Blues Festival. It takes place on July 16th and 17th in beautful Harbor Park. Our attendance varies, but this year we are expecting over 16,000 attendees over the two days of the festival. Typically our crowd is comprised of a wide range of demographics, but we primarily see the over 50, baby boomer crowd.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
PB: Not only do you get to enjoy some of the best blues music on the planet, but you get to enjoy beautiful Maine during the summer. It’s July, it’s warm, it's on the ocean, and we have great blues music. Don't forget; we serve lobster! Our festival is one of a kind!
RAL: Take me through a day at the event.
PB: We have a lot going on during festival weekend. First and foremost, all the acts at the festival are national touring artists from all over the world. Live music will be played at almost all times while the festival is open. After the festival on Saturday we will be having a local club crawl. The club crawl is open to all ages and takes place on Main St. There will be five bands playing along the street, which is closed to traffic on Saturday night. The wristband that you get from going to the festival Saturday gets you into all the clubs at no charge but have to be over 21.
When it comes to dining options, we have a variety of food vendors on hand. Also, the festival is within walking distance to some great local restaurants. No matter what type of food you prefer, you’ll find something here or close by. We also have a vendor section where you can buy everything from art to merchandise.
Here is a suggestion we have for our attendees: While we have some lawn chairs, it's a good idea to bring your own chairs, sunscreen, blankets, etc. The environment is that of a big outdoor festival with tons of great live music. The mood is laid back, friendly and is easy to meet new people. It’s a unique experience that you’ll love.
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
PB: Maine in July is beautiful and people come from far and wide to enjoy all the state has to offer. Finding available rooms can be tough during the summer. We encourage you to plan ahead as far as possible. You may need to stay in a nearby community, but it's worth the extra bit of travel.
RAL: What does the event mean to the community?
PB: This event is huge for Rockland and the surrounding communities. Many local businesses report that this is their best weekend in sales for the entire year. In fact, we’ve won awards from two different chambers of commerce, Rockland and Camden, for the positive impact we have had on the communities.
RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?
PB: Yes, we support Raising The Blues, Ltd, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization that brings music to children undergoing medical treatments. We also support local schools and the Midwest Musical Academy.
For more information about the North Atlantic Blues Festival, please visit their website.