Maritime history celebrated at Camden Windjammer Festival
Camden — A step back in time — of sorts — took place on Camden’s working waterfront as the community got together to help celebrate the town's deep maritime history Labor Day weekend. The Camden Windjammer Festival has become a staple event to symbolize the end of summer and draws thousands of people from all over the world.
The Windjammer fleet, the harbor’s day-tour boats and private yachtsmen packed Camden Harbor for the weekend of festivities. The Maritime Heritage Fair on the public landing showcased exhibitors' knowledge of the sea, history and the skill of sailors and sailing vessels.
Other events included a talent contest and fireworks display Friday night and a pancake breakfast, a build-a-boat contest, chowder cook-off and crate race Saturday. Sunday, the town was defended by a bunch of rag-tag volunteers and the ships made one final pass through the harbor on the return to home ports.
Captain Jim Sharpe opened the event Friday afternoon welcoming the ships to Camden and giving the crowd on hand a brief, but vivid history of each and every one. Activities throughout the day culminated in Harbor Park, with Master of Ceremonie Rosie Gerry and the talent contest and fireworks.
The crate race was a big draw on Saturday. Seth Silverton and Jessica Manbeck organized and ran the Lobster Crate Race with the help of John Viehman. Harbormaster Steve Pixley and Assistant Harbor Master Jim Leo built the crates for the event. The race was sponsored by Camden National Bank.
Silverton, who is the head of the National Crate Racing Association said they hope to bring lobster crate racing to the forefront and envisions a racing circuit in the future.
“We’d love to see a triple crown of crate racing,” Silverton said. “The three big races — Boothbay, Rockland and Camden — sound like a lot of fun.”
Race winners were Lauren Rothwell, Jonah Lovejoy and Finn Emory. Rothwell crossed 312 crates — a new record.
Additional participants included, Lindsey Reilly, Hope Bifulco, Grace Poirier, Samantha Poirer, Carrick Lally, Declan Lally, Ben Wells, Mark Tocco, Aidan Darling, Adella Brainerd, Skyler Lozano, Ethan Tucker, Thomas Pasquarelli, Hollis Schwalm, Henry Roper, Sam Conlan, Angus Carter, Erika Bramhall, Reid Chester, Michael Brennan, Sarah Brennan, Daniel Bennett, Alex Cohen, Ethan Cohen, Bennett Cohen, Pete Lovejoy, Lily Coats, Gabe Gumbell, Nordica Dupere, and Kevin Mulvihill.
Local chefs put their best chowder recipes to the test during the West Bay Rotary Chowder Challenge. This year’s event saw eight of the best vie for the title, which was won by Graffam Brothers Harborside Restaurant. Second place went to Cappy’s Chowder House and Waterfront Restaurant finished third. Other participants include Owls Head General Store, Knox Center-Quarry Hill, Cuzzy’s Restaurant, Pen Bay Medical Center and The Wave Café at Camden Hills Regional High School.
Emily Lusher, chairwoman of the Camden Windjammer Festival, said in a letter to the editor there are many people to thank for making the event possible and creating an atmosphere for it to succeed. This year marked the first the festival was run by its own nonprofit rather than Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The Camden Windjammer Festival Steering Committee includes, Lusher, Viehman, Silverman, Manbeck, Pixley, Dan Bookham, Ray Williamson and Cathie Dorr.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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