The 71st annual Maine Lobster Festival runs Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 3 through 5, at Rockland Harbor Park, and this year, it’s all-inclusive.

Paul Benjamin, cofounder and –producer of the annual North Atlantic Blues Festival, has taken on the entertainment mantle, and he’s made a couple of significant changes.

The North Tent, located, as its name indicates, by the entrance off Park Drive, will be hopping with cooking contests, speed-knitting demos, book signings and more … but no entertainment acts. All music will be on the Fishermen’s Memorial main stage or in the Eating Tent. And there are no higher-cost advance tickets to reserve seats for the Thursday through Saturday night concerts.

“It’s all included in festival admission,” Benjamin said.

That admission on opening day is just a buck, free younger than 12 and active military with ID. Thursday through Saturday, admission is $8; $2 for children age 6 to 11; and free for younger children and for active military with ID. On the festival’s final day, admission is free for everyone.

The other entertainment tweak is to keep the lineup strictly Maine-made. The evening music options cover a wide range of genres, all of which should get festivalgoers up on their feet. Thursday at 7 p.m., the Mallett Brothers Band, always a hit, will take the main stage. The Boys from Sebec have a loyal regional following and continue to gain fans farther afield with their high-energy alt-country music and fine songwriting.

Friday’s music begins at 6 p.m. with the award-winning Erica Brown and The Bluegrass Connection. As a youngster, Brown won fiddling contests and traveled throughout the United States and Canada with the Maine French Fiddlers. Her band includes husband Matt Shipman, with whom she also performs as the duo Darlin’ Corey, as well as Steve Roy, Ken Taylor and Read McNamara. At 7:45 p.m., Portland’s Hello Newman starts cranking out ‘90s and beyond alternative rock, ska, rap and, what the heck, swing. Yes, there will be dancing.

The Saturday night pump gets primed by the Midcoast’s own Steelin’ Thunder, playing just about every genre on pan steel drums. At 8 p.m., Pat Colwell and the Soul Sensations promises to get everybody dancing and singing. This band is an old-school soul revue with female backup/lead singers, a full horn section and great Memphis and Motown tunes. It is led by former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Colwell; and abetted by Larissa Smith, Julie Ouellette Ward, Dave Thibodeau, Ronnie Bouffard, Marcia Gallagher, David “The Doctor” Wakefield, Parker Kenyon and Angela Plato Pitteroff.

Sunday afternoon will see local favorites The Lowdown hit the main stage at 2 p.m., after the popular children’s contests conclude and during the International Great Lobster Crate Race. And there are plenty of solo shows scheduled all festival long in both music venues.

For the full schedule, visit and see the special section from last week’s Courier-Gazette, Camden Herald or Republican Journal (online at knox[or waldo]