Friday, Sept. 2 brings the launch of Camden’s annual maritime celebration which features the largest gathering of schooners in the Northeast.

In addition to showcasing the fleet, the festival brings three full days of fun for young residents and visitors, as well as activities for all ages.

For kids, a fish relay race, a nautical skills course, a treasure hunt, a build-a-boat contest, pirates, the annual lobster crate race, a radio-controlled boat race, facepainting and fireworks all make the weekend a lively one for the younger set.

“This event gives our young people a chance to learn about the importance of the marine industry to our area,” said Karen Brace, Camden’s Community Development director in a news release. “There’s something going for them on all three days. They get to board the big cruising vessels and see some of their history first-hand, and can even become certified as a Windjammer Mate. Of course there are all the traditional races to keep them running as well,” she added.

The Windjammer Festival Committee has announced that the Chamber of Commerce will be adding a treasure hunt to this year’s schedule. Brace said that this activity will take teams all around town to find nautical items and (chocolate) treasure, and the kids will take away seafaring lore too. The Treasure Hunt was last led by the Amy Rollins in 2007, and Rollins will once again be leading the charge, with the Chamber building on the Public Landing serving as the headquarters for the event.

The one-hour Windjammer Mate’s Certification course, instructed by Windjammer Chairperson Roger Ackley, prepares students of any age to assist on the schooners. The Mate’s course, which was a new element added last year, is sponsored by the Country Inn and Cedar Crest Inn. Advance sign-up at the festival information booth is recommended.

Traditional boatbuilding skills will come into play at the festival’s annual Build-A-Boat Contest. This activity challenges participants to construct their own vessel that they will race on the final day of the event. Contestants will be guided through the process of building a boat on the public landing starting the morning of Saturday, Sept. 3. Materials are donated by EBS and Sikoflex, and all tools are provided. The Build-A-Boat Contest culminates in a parade of the homemade boats and an entertaining race on Sunday at 11:30.

First Fish is a relay race where teams carry slippery fish through an obstacle course comprised of seaweed, a simulated squall and other seaworthy challenges. Contestants must put on a slicker at the start and “wrap their fish for market” at the end of the timed race. The event is organized by festival volunteers Tim and Lisa Dresser and sponsored by First National Bank.

A long-standing tradition, the Lobster Crate Race is a highlight of Labor Day Weekend in Camden. Signups take place that morning at the Windjammer Festival info station. Sponsored by Camden National Bank, crate race contestants run across a line of crates floating in the harbor, trying to avoid falling in. A spokesperson from Camden National Bank has said that Penny the Pig may make an appearance at the event, but they haven’t yet been successful in convincing her to run across the crates.

Children of all ages will be captivated by the radio-controlled boat race in Camden Harbor at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, which is sponsored by Allen Insurance and Financial. Artist Buckley Smith will also provide a drawing class for children during the festival, and a special story hour will be hosted at the Camden Public Library.

The Library hosts a very special event on the Saturday of the festival (Sept. 3) when Robert Eddy will speak about his process of constructing classic yacht models. Eddy, who grew up locally, is a renowned model builder who has produced some of the world’s finest yacht models. At his Camden studio he creates exquisitely crafted, custom models for private art collections belonging to some of the most prestigious yacht owners. Each commissioned piece is perfectly scaled and uses fine woods, silver, gold and precious gems. The results are timeless pieces of art. This is the first year that Eddy’s talk will be featured as an integral part of Camden’s Labor Day maritime heritage celebration.

Eighteen cruising schooners will be on hand for the Camden Windjammer Festival, which runs from noon on Friday, Sept. 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4. The windjammers are open for tours both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Entrance to the Camden Windjammer Festival is free. A detailed schedule of events is available at camdenwindammerfestival.org.

Additional sponsors of the festival include Courier Publications, Down East, Bangor Daily News, Camden National Bank, The Bay View Collection, First National Bank, Sea Dog, Pen Bay Pilot, Allen Insurance and Financial, Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center, Maine Sport, Cedar Crest Inn, Country Inn at Camden-Rockport, Camden Real Estate, Once a Tree, the Waterfront Restaurant, Edward Jones and the Camden Area Business Group.