Boat Festivals Sweep the Nation as Summer Winds Down


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Boaters can participate in unique maritime and boating festivals in coastal towns around the U.S. in the fall and throughout the year

Each year in Southport, Maine, locals and tourists gather for the annual Arts and Yachts Exhibition and Sale. This three-day festival is held each year in August and is a celebration of the region’s rich maritime culture and how it has impacted the region’s aesthetic.

Local restaurants provide wine, beverages, and appetizers. Artists and artisans set up booths to sell their wares, which include hand built fairy houses, ocean inspired water color paintings and sculptures, and necklaces made of sea glass — a piece of glass that has been submerged in saltwater and tossed in the waves until the edges are smoothed, a process that takes anywhere from five to 50 years.

Of course, a large number of boats are displayed too, ranging from small scale models to full scale, functional yachts, and everything in between. Notable highlights include an Adirondack Guide boat that was crafted out of cedar and African purple heart and videos of boat building that were displayed on the broadside of a boat shed.



Boat Festivals in Coastal Towns

The Southport Maine festival was part of a larger movement across the nation, a summertime tradition happening in towns across the United States.

boat festivals

In Nantucket, Massachusetts there is the annual Race Week. In Belfast, Maine, there was the Harbor Fest and Classic Boat Show. Port Townsend, Washington will host the Northwest Maritime Center Wooden Boat Festival in September, the same weekend that New London Hosts the Connecticut Maritime Festival.

For those who organize these festivals, the draw is clear. These festivals are not simply a celebration of the ocean or sailing, they are a celebration of a way of life that has shaped many coastal communities. Not only that, these boat festivals are also proof that this culture is alive and well today, according to Kaci Cronkike, the festival director of the Northwest Maritime Center Wooden Boat Festival between 2002 and 2011.

“It was the ‘maritime trades’ people (young and old, men and women), with their skills, self-reliance, interdependent collaborative work, creative ingenuity and, of course, through the boats they built, pursuit of a life intimately connected to the sea, that drew people together and inspired the festival in the first place,” Cronkite said in an interview with Port Townsend Leader in 2016.

For a full list of upcoming boat festivals around the country (and around the world!), check out this great list from EverFest.

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