Labor Day (Friday, Sept. 2 to Sunday, Sept. 4) seems a long way off, but planning is already underway for the 2011 Camden Windjammer Festival. Camden will once again play host to Maine’s windjammer fleet, as well as a host of other special vessels — both commercial and private — living history exhibits, wonderful food and flat-out family fun with the Camden Windjammer Festival.
This year is extra-special, as it marks the 75th anniversary of windjamming in Maine, a vacation tradition that began in Camden harbor in 1936 when Captain Frank Swift founded Maine Windjammer Cruises (a company that still sails from in front of my office on the landing today under the capable helmsmanship of Captain Ray Williamson).
For those of you unfamiliar with this great event, the Camden Windjammer Festival is a community-led celebration of Camden’s maritime heritage and living traditions. From the great age of sail when four-, five-, and even six-masted schooners were launched into Camden Harbor, through the birth of the windjammer business here in the 1930s and continuing with the elegant yachts that visit or call Camden home every summer, sailing ships have always defined this gorgeous community where the mountains meet the sea.
To bring the world of the windjammer to a larger audience that includes both landlubbers and old salts, the Camden Windjammer Festival was created. This Labor Day weekend event in Camden Harbor sees the awe-inspiring vessels of the Maine windjammer fleet rafted alongside each other and hosting free “open-boat” tours, demonstrations of nautical skills and traditions, and a schooner crew talent show that is truly unlike any other show in the world.
Every year on Labor Day weekend thousands of visitors from as far away as Alaska and as near as Bay View Street in Camden gather along the wharfs and parks to explore the ships themselves, learn salty crafts and skills, and swap sea stories and songs in talent shows and concerts that appeal to landlubbers and salty types alike. Now in its sixteenth year, the Camden Windjammer Festival has become a wildly popular event for tourists as well as locals.
This festival recognizes not just what makes Camden unique but also the important role maritime
heritage plays in shaping the lives of all who live here. And, most of all, to celebrate it!
Scores of volunteers are needed to make this weekend possible – there won’t be a festival without them. Volunteers are signing up from all over the country but the festival can always use more.
Volunteers are especially needed to help set up the public landing and the stage in Harbor Park on Friday morning, as well as to help disassemble the landing tent and park stage on Sunday night and Monday morning.
Residents and vacationers of all ages are invited to volunteer for at least a four-hour shift over the course of the weekend. Volunteering is a great way to be right at the heart of the Camden Windjammer Festival while contributing invaluable help to the event and the community in a fun and enjoyable setting.
Each volunteer receives an exclusive Camden Windjammer Festival Volunteer T-shirt. Also,
volunteers will be able to say that they helped stage one of the biggest parties on the Maine coast in celebration of our maritime heritage and community spirit. To offer your services, sign up online at www.camdenwindjammerfestival.com/volunteer