November 23, 2017
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Boatbuilding challenge resurrected

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The Belfast Rotary Club is resurrecting the National Boatbuilding Challenge and adding activities with it, including a Sardine Extravaganza, to create the Belfast Harbor Fest Aug. 20-22.

The weekend of events kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday with a Launch Party under the tent on Steamboat Landing at the foot of Commercial Street. There will be live music 6-11 p.m. along with food and drinks for sale. The party is being hosted by Three Tides.

At 7:30 a.m. Saturday, there will be a pancake and sausage breakfast in the Boathouse until 10 a.m. The cost for the breakfast is $4. There will also be registration for the Bug Run 5K road race from 7:30 until 8:15 a.m. with the race taking off on Commercial Street at 8:30.

The National Boatbuilding Challenge will take place under the tent on Steamboat Landing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Teams of two will have up to four hours to construct a wooden skiff and then will test their boats in a relay race across the harbor. Spectators are welcome to watch the competition with no admission fee.

Also on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m., there will be a free series of speakers in the Boathouse and free entertainment on the Sardine Stage set up on Belfast Common. Speakers in the Boathouse include:

  • Joe Upton, the author of 11 books, who began hauling bit herring on a 60-year-old wooden boat (Amaretto) in Maine after he became discouraged by the fisheries decline in Alaska, at 11 a.m.
  • Megan Pinette, Belfast’s unofficial historian, at 1 p.m.
  • Skip Strong, who wrote “In Peril,” the first-person account of the rescue of an ocean tug that was carrying a 150-foot aluminum fuel cell for the space shuttle worth upwards of $50 million and his fight in court for salvage rights at 2:15 p.m.

On the Sardine Stage on Belfast Common:

  • An Invocation … for the love of herring by Diva and poets at noon.
  • Gawler Family Music at 1 p.m.
  • Anna Dembska and the Schoodic Chorus at 2 p.m.
  • Gordon Bok with the January Men and Then Some at 3:30 p.m.
  • Belfast Bay Fiddlers at 4:15 p.m.
  • The Grand March with Chrissy Fowler, the Flashing Fish Dancers and the Belfast Bay Fiddlers, Anna Demsbska, The Sardine Singers and the Belfast Drum and Rabble at 5 p.m.

Come Boating!, Belfast’s community boating program, will host its 10th annual Rowing Regatta as part of the Belfast Harbor Fest. There will be races for adults and youth with awards given in various classes. Any type of rowed or paddled craft may participate.

Registration fees, which include tasty treats, are $20 for adults and $5 for teens, age 13 to 18. For more information, go to or contact Malcolm Gater at 338-4578.

Among the other all-day events planned with no admission fee are a Birch Bark Canoe Building Demonstration by a representative from the Penobscot Nation, a Classic Small Boat Show, the Compass Project Community Boatbuilding event, Maritime Exhibits, children’s activities, a fishing tournament and vendors.

For more information about the Belfast Harbor Fest, go to