CAMDEN — Chart a course for Camden Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-3, 2017, when the harbor will be filled with the sails and masts of nearly two dozen windjammers and schooners. Friday, Sept. 1 brings the launch of Camden's 24th annual maritime celebration, the Camden Windjammer Festival, which features the largest gathering of windjammers in the northeast. The festival offers three full days of family-friendly events, spirited competitions and nautical exhibits that can only be experienced on Labor Day Weekend in Camden.
Settle in Friday afternoon, on a bench at the public landing, and watch as the windjammers parade into the harbor beginning at noon. Capt. Jim Sharp provides running commentary on the history and glory of each vessel as it makes its way to its berth at the public docks. The vessels are greeted one by one by the crowd, and each captain is gifted with a pineapple, a symbol of hospitality. During this time, a silent auction will be underway, with bidders vying to win dinner aboard a handful of the schooners that night. The evening includes an outdoor concert and schooner talent show in Harbor Park, and culminates with fireworks over the harbor.
Saturday morning begins early with the Camden Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast. The Lobster Crate Race is Saturday's highlight, and features contestants racing across a line of crates trying to avoid falling into the harbor. The First Fish Relay Race is another fun competition that has teams tossing slippery fish into a boat's "hold" and then racing a short course to finish. The popular Build-A-Boat Contest has been modified this year, and will provide teams with boat kits to construct and decorate. Teams will test their boats' seaworthiness and race to win on the final day of the Windjammer Festival.
There will be a raffle for kayak rides out to Curtis Island and back on both Saturday and Sunday. There will be 56 lucky paddlers who will win this opportunity, with the kayaks departing at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. both days.
On Saturday, the Pirates of the Dark Rose will set up camp for the weekend in Harbor Park, where they will put on a big puppet show, demonstrate their weapons, fire canons and try to recruit pirates into their ranks. On Sunday, there will be a big pirate skirmish, complete with a diabolical visit by the S/V Must Roos. The town will need your help staving off the marauding pirate invasion, so pick up a sword, learn those pirate skills Saturday and learn them good!
At noon on Saturday stop by the big tent for the West Bay Rotary Chowder Challenge. The Public Landing will play host to displays of maritime traditions and crafts, as well as an indoor display showcasing the windjammer, historical photos of Camden and a display from the Maine Lighthouse Museum. The schooners are open for tours both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Camden Public Library will show the movie Captains Courageous, with scenes filmed in Camden and locals playing small parts. Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary will perform in concert Saturday night at the Opera House.
On Sunday morning check out the Radio Controlled Boat Race, sign up for the Treasure Hunt and watch the lobster hauling demonstration. Then it's time for the Build-a-Boat racers to test their creations on the water, followed by the Nautical Dog Show, the pirate ship's arrival and then the Boat Parade Finale.
Daysailing schooners will be sailing every day to get you out on Penobscot Bay for a couple of hours. Food and other vendors will be located on the public landing, with restaurants and stores open downtown during the Festival as well.
Entrance to the Camden Windjammer Festival is free, with generous financial and in-kind support from numerous businesses, organizations and individual volunteers, in partnership with the Town of Camden. Visit the Sponsors page on the website for a complete list, and be sure to thank and show your support for those who contributed.
The detailed schedule of events is available at camdenwindammerfestival.org and follow us on Facebook at /windjammerfestival. FMI: email firstname.lastname@example.org.