Maritime Festival in Greenport to feature more nautical theme

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09/09/2012 2:30 PM |

JAY WEBSTER FILE PHOTO | The Maritime Festival scheduled for Sept. 22-23 will feature a more nautical theme this year.

Organizers of the annual Maritime Festival in Greenport Village believe this year’s event will offer more nautical-themed activities and highlight local business better than it has in years past.

East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation spokesman Ted Webb, who recently stepped down as the organization’s president, said the 23rd annual Maritime Festival hopes to expand on the success of Memorial Day weekend’s Tall Ships Challenge event, for which over 60,000 people visited the downtown area to view six vessels.

“This year we worked more closely with the Village of Greenport and the BID, which have been very supportive,” Mr. Webb said of this year’s festival, scheduled for Sept. 22-23. “We’ll have tall ships in the harbor [and] the parade will be bigger and better with more bands.”

Mr. Webb said the U.S. Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle and Zaida are scheduled to appear. The Coast Guard will also bring over a motor life boat from its station in Shinnecock. Mr. Webb said members of the Coast Guard will teach visitors about how it protects the shoreline and will also show them how to tie different knots.

Eagle is a German-made tall ship built in 1936 that was taken as a war reparation by the U.S. following World War II. The 295-foot ship then sailed to its current homeport in New London, Conn., where it acts as a training vessel.

Zaida was used during the 1940s in the Picket Patrol — a part of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary made up of motor boats, yachts and other small craft. Mr. Webb said Zaida is one of the last remaining yachts from the all-volunteer Picket Patrol — known as the “Hooligan Navy” — that patrolled the waters off of Long Island.

In addition, the Privateer Lynx, a replica of a historic ship from the War of 1812, will be available for both viewing and sail aways.

Jack Fisher, a resident of Peconic Landing in Greenport and a former member of the Hooligan Navy, has been selected as grand marshal for the festival’s opening parade, Mr. Webb said.

Greenport Village Business Improvement District president Peter Clarke said he’s pleased that the event’s focus is strongly tied to local maritime history. Mr. Clarke said his group has worked with the museum’s new president, Ron Breuer, and village officials over the past year to plan both the Tall Ships Challenge and the Maritime Festival.

“Working together — the museum, the BID and Village Hall — we made some steps in the right direction,” he said.

Mr. Clarke said the museum is also working to accommodate local store owners’ concerns more than it has in the past. For example, Mr. Clarke said the museum has decided to reduce the number of outside vendors during the festival in order to highlight downtown businesses. He said some business owners have also expressed to the museum their belief that nonprofit groups should come up with additional fundraising methods outside the village instead of relying solely on revenue from hosting a single event downtown.

“Despite the different point of views of the past, this year has been about bringing the community together,” Mr. Clarke said. “I think it will be a very interesting festival.”

Greenport Village Mayor David Nyce said he’s also pleased that there has been more dialogue among the museum, BID and village during the planning process.

“Hopefully, this trend will continue in years to come,” he said.

With about two weeks left until the Maritime Festival kicks off, Mr. Webb said the museum is finalizing a list of nonprofit groups that will hold educational demonstrations during the event, as well as musical performances.

The traditional Land and Sea reception will take place Friday, Sept. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the East End Seaport Museum. Tickets are $30 each; $25 for museum members.

Cruises to Long Beach Bar “Bug” Lighthouse are scheduled between 4 to 6 p.m. each day of the festival. Last year was the first time in about a decade that the lighthouse has been open to the public. The structure was built in 1990 to replace the original Bug Light, so named for the insect-like appearance of its spindly steel legs. That building was destroyed by arsonists on July 4, 1963.

The opening day parade steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, and marches along Main and Front streets. There will also be a kayak derby.

Sunday. Sept. 23, will feature a dory race as well as snapper-fishing and chowder contests and a live musical performance by Dunegrass in Mitchell Park from 1 to 3 p.m.

Throughout the two-day festival, there will be classic ice and small boats on display in Mitchell Park, as well as Captain Kidd’s Craft Alley, Kings of the Coast Pirate Shows, a Mitchell Park Treasure Chest and various street events.

The Maritime Festival will conclude Sunday with raffle drawings in Mitchell Park.

“It will be a full weekend,” Mr. Webb said. “Let’s hope for good weather.”

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