Belfast Rotary Club declares Harbor Fest a success, plans donation to School Clothes Closets

Wed, 09/20/2023 - 2:00pm

BELFAST — The 16th annual Belfast Harbor Fest, celebrated on the city’s waterfront Aug. 18, 19 and 20, 2023 was the most successful in the history of the event.

Hosted by Belfast Rotary Club and sponsored by nearly fifty Belfast area businesses, organizations and generous individuals, Harbor Fest attracted more than 2,500 participants and visitors. Harbor Fest this year generated nearly $40,000 in revenue from its Evening by the Bay gala and charitable auction, event sponsorships, 5K road race entries, blueberry pancake breakfast and merchandise sales, and fees from its boatbuilding challenge and cardboard boat race participants, exhibitors and vendors.

“Everything fell into place, including the weather,” said Belfast Rotary Club’s Russell Werkman, the event chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Waldo County YMCA, in a news release.

National Boatbuilding Challenge winners shared $1,750 in prizes, food vendors kept people fed, local musicians like Anni and the Rainmakers and Jonesville, and the Come Boating! rowing regatta, kept them entertained. The children’s activity area, Pinewood Derby, Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers and touch-a-truck activities made families feel welcome. Local organizations and craftspeople offered items of beauty and interest.

The Carboard Boat Race on Sunday capped everything off, with an estimated 1,000 people standing on shore to watch nearly a dozen intrepid teams compete.

“All in all, it was a wonderful, busy weekend,” said Werkman.

Rotary Club president Steve Norman, Library Director of the Belfast Free Library, added, “The hard work of nearly 60 volunteers providing hundreds of hours of their time, both Rotary members and Belfast area neighbors, made this a fantastic event. And more than 100 businesses, organizations and artists made this year’s gala and auction the biggest one ever.”

That event, Evening by the Bay, was held in the donated community space at the United Farmers Market on Spring Street. More than $20,000 in items were up for bid at two auctions, including a live auction with Belfast Mayor Eric Sanders as auctioneer. The items included a $3,000 dory, boating experiences, a catered cocktail party for 25 people, original artwork and gift certificates to many Belfast and area businesses.

“Because Bell the Cat’s food was wonderful and a crowd of nearly 200 people were generous, Belfast Rotary will be able to make a significant donation to support the elementary school Kids Clothes Closet programs in RSU 71, RSU 20 and Northport,” said event chairperson Sue Beemer, Head of School at the Cornerspring Montessori School.

Rotary’s motto is ‘Service above Self.’

“It’s easy to be of service when you are having such a good time,” said Beemer.

Belfast Rotary Club’s major charitable projects include support for food programs, scholarships for graduating students from RSU 71 and RSU 20 high schools and the Waldo County Tech Center, holiday gifts of winter clothing, boots and toys for more than 200 Waldo County children, pancake breakfasts and 5K road races. Including other gifts to meet people’s and local organizations’ needs, Belfast Rotary will donate nearly $150,000 to the community this year. Its next major charitable events will be a fall Polio Eradication pledge walk, a June charitable golf tournament and the 2024 Belfast Harbor Fest on the third weekend in August.

Belfast Rotary Club will celebrate 100 years of service in 2025. The 70-member group, which meets every Wednesday at noon at the Belfast Shrine club, is one of the largest and most active on the midcoast. For information on joining Belfast Rotary or to make a tax-deductible donation in support of the Club’s year-round charitable and service programs, go to