June 22, 2018
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Festival to celebrate coastal heritage

By Walter Griffin

BELFAST, Maine — The commemoration of Henry Hudson’s exploration of Penobscot Bay 400 years ago will be among the highlights at the Maritime Heritage Festival being held at the waterfront Heritage Park on Saturday, July 25.

Hudson’s initial landing in the New World was on the shore of Penobscot Bay on July 18, 1609. The daylong heritage festival is aimed at paying tribute to Hudson’s visit and the maritime heritage of coastal Maine.

The festival will begin at 9 a.m., and the tribute and re-enactment of Henry Hudson’s landing will take place at 2 p.m. It will feature a Hudson expert from the New Netherland Museum in Albany, N.Y., who will play the role of Hudson in the staged landing.

Gajus Scheltema, consul general of the Netherlands, will attend and speak at the Hudson event.

The New Netherland Museum is the owner of a replica of Hudson’s ship the Half Moon, which sailed to the New World from Holland 400 years ago. Area youngsters from the Game Loft will act as the Half Moon’s crew.

During the ceremony, the famous explorer will be designated Belfast’s “First Official Summer Tourist.” The ceremony will include the reading of state and local proclamations. On exhibit will be paintings commemorating Hudson’s 400th anniversary visit to Maine by historical artist Ron Lesser.

“It’s a great historic event for Maine,” organizer John Burgess said. “We’ve reached out to the community and the net result is we’ve gotten broader participation. It just has shaped up to a very nice festival and should be a great day for small boats.”

The Maritime Heritage Festival also will feature a small boat show with as many as 40 boats on exhibit, rowing and sailing regattas, folk music, demonstrations and a mackerel fishing tournament. There will be craft and art shows with a nautical bent, as well as educational demonstrations tied to marine trades and skills.

The Penobscot Marine Museum and Belfast Historical Society will provide additional maritime exhibits.

Hudson re-enactment organizer Bill Underwood noted that discussions are under way and consideration is being given to bringing the New Netherland Museum’s replica of the Half Moon to coastal Maine next summer. The ship’s owner has indicated its availability and has expressed interest in sailing the Maine coast.

Possible coastal communities to be visited include Portland, Bath, Boothbay, Camden and Belfast.

For information and to support the effort, contact the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce at 338-3310 or info@belfastmaine.org. For information about the Maritime Heritage Festival, visit belfastmaine.org.

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