By Camden Emmet
Don’t hate us because we are beautiful. Hate us because we are “The prettiest village in Maine.”
Much like the Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers, everyone (who doesn’t live here) hates Camden. We like to pronounce it “Cahmden” just to incite more hatred.
All right, we are obnoxious. We know what we have and you don’t. Within two miles of Cobb Manor is the Atlantic Ocean and the famed schooner fleet, Goose River Golf Course (even if it actually in Rockport), Megunticook Lake and the Camden Snow Bowl ski area.
Where would you rather live?
Down East Magazine readers admitted it this issue, when they chose Camden as the prettiest village in the state. Forget Wiscasset and their phony sign.
We’re number one.
Down East Magazine utilized Dave Ahlers of Omaha, Nebraska (honest) to make their case for Camden. “So much about Camden represents Maine at its most iconic, the harbor, Mount Battie, the Village Green, lobster rolls on the deck at Marriner’s Restaurant. Camden is the best way to show someone “from away” what a unique and special place Maine is,” said Ahlers.
Who could argue with that? I, for one, would choose a Kendall Jackson on the deck at the Waterfront Restaurant to watch the schooner fleet glide by, instead of lobster rolls at Marriner’s, but that is just minor quibbling. (Plus, I don’t like lobster. Sorry.)
On my annual pilgrimage to Fort Myers, Fla. to mourn over the Red Sox, I meet scores of people from around the country. They all seem to know where Camden is. Boothbay Harbor? Damariscotta? I don’t think so.
For the record, Boothbay Harbor finished at number two. Susie Saudek of Capitol Island, Maine described BBH as “a laid-back village far from busy Route 1…which features authentic charm, a working waterfront, drop-dead natural beauty and a great mix of restaurants, cultural events and artisans. It is surrounded by islands and lighthouse, while the village itself shines, thanks to brick sidewalks, handsome hand-painted signs and a gentle, hilly terrain.”
Big deal. BBH doesn’t even have a mountain overlooking their harbor.
I try to avoid Damariscotta whenever I can to lower the possibilities of running into Jefferson Phil, who spends most of the summer scarfing oysters at Schooner Landing. In spite of Phil, Damariscotta is a wonderful little village. David Charters of New Brunswick agrees. He wrote in Down East that “Damariscotta is just picture perfect and everything is in scale. Not too big or too small. It’s walkable and has well-preserved original architecture. As a true Maine village it feels and looks just right,” said Charters. Plus they have Salt Bay Café, one of my very favorite restaurants. Despite Phil, Damariscotta came in third.
Wiscasset is the great pretender, with its “prettiest village in Maine” road sign. Maybe they will take it down now. Unfortunately, most people remember Wiscasset as the spot where they sat in summer traffic for an hour watching the line at Red’s Eats. The great pretenders came in fourth.
Fifth was Kennebunkport, mostly because it is so close to New Hampshire and (ptui) Massachusetts and occasionally inhabited by political luminaries. No Mountain, no ski area.
We come back to the midcoast area for number six, with the charming village of Rockport. Rockport is not noted solely for its proximity to Camden but has a quality of “pastoral landscape meets coastal splendor. Rockport has all the essence of busier Camden (see?) with a deliciously subtle sense of seclusion,” according to Crystal Cordoba of Lubec.
No one has rustled a single Belted Galloway “Oreo” cow from their Rockport farm since Chief Al has been hired to protect them.
Number seven is Stonington. I don’t remember ever visiting there, but Jeff Rocker and Colleen Johnson of Auburn, New York said Stonington “makes you feel like you walked into a Normal Rockwell painting.”
No one can argue against Castine on the “prettiest” list, it is surprising that it comes in eighth. Blue Hill came in ninth. Last on the Down East list was Northeast Harbor with its Full Belli Deli. Northeast Harbor “is both quiet and busy at the same time,” according to George and Barb Walker of Canton, Ohio.
Give the other contestants their due. As long as Cahmden is number one.
Eat your heart out, Boothbay Harbor..