CAMDEN, Maine — British troops failed to defend the shore Sunday, allowing a ship full of pirates to plunder and terrorize the good people of Camden Harbor who had gathered for the 16th annual Windjammer Festival.
Hundreds watched through the fog of cannon fire, the crack of musketry and the clang of steel-on-steel swordplay.
The British officer in charge laid the blame on his regiment’s major for the loss. The major, tippling from a flask and snorting from her snuff tin, succumbed with the rest of her troops to the swords of charging marauders.
“With all the rum and snuff, it’s a wonder she’s able to defend the port at all,” observed the officer in charge. “Don’t worry, good people. We’ll do our best to defend the town.”
The cannon and shore battle were among many attractions at this weekend’s Windjammer Festival, which saw clear skies and sea breezes after the wet but uneventful passing of Tropical Storm Earl on Saturday morning. Organizers delayed the start of the festival by 24 hours to avoid the nasty weather.
Despite the delay, the downtown and shoreline were packed with sightseers and revelers.
Teresa Taylor of Connecticut, who enjoyed the festival from aboard the schooner Nathaniel Bowditch, said the quaint festival atmosphere was what has kept her family coming back for more than 20 years.
“We’ll go through anything for this,” she said earlier on Saturday as the rain poured down. “We love Maine that much.”
Musical groups, maritime demonstrations and guided tours of several majestic windjammers highlighted the festival, which was scheduled to conclude Sunday night with a fireworks display over the harbor.
At midday Sunday, dozens of dog lovers gathered at Harbor Park to watch canine agility trials and participate in a sort of dog show with prizes for everything from smallest dog to hairiest to best eyes.
Lowry Sargent of Camden and his 175-pound Newfoundland, Zach, took home “Heaviest Dog” honors.
“I think he was kind of a shoo-in,” said Sargent of tranquil 6½-year-old Zach, who sported dark sunglasses for the competition.
Dan Bookham, executive director of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce, said attendance at the abbreviated festival was heavy. A Saturday evening concert at Camden Opera House by the Portland-based band Paranoid Social Club sold out, even though it was free.
“That’s pretty good, for a free show to sell out,” said Bookham.
Capt. Jim Sharp, a volunteer for the festival dating back to its inception, said the event serves as an important reminder of the important role windjammers played in Maine’s history. At one time, they were the primary means of transporting goods around the world.
“This is a live, floating museum,” said Sharp. “Where else can you go in this world and see canvas sails, hemp roping and wooden masts? Nowhere.”