CAMDEN, Maine — Organizers expect that nothing like the past weekend’s rain will be able to dampen the experience of the Camden Windjammer Festival’s annual parade of sail to be held on Friday afternoon.
“You can go all over the world and never see a sight like this,” said Capt. Jim Sharp, who will be announcing the boats and sharing their history with the crowd. “They’re practically living, floating museum pieces. It’s an absolutely amazing thing to see these vessels muscle their way into this tiny harbor.”
The parade is one of the most popular elements of the free, nonprofit weekend festival, which is under the leadership of the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce for the first time this year.
Dan Bookham, director of the Chamber, said he’s excited about the festival’s offerings this year. The community has come together to make it a great one, he said, and the focus will be on the area’s maritime heritage.
In an effort to include the Camden business community, there will be no commercial sales or outside food vendors on the public landing, where the festival will be held. Instead, Camden’s two Rotary Clubs will entice the crowds with a Saturday blueberry pancake breakfast and lunchtime “chowder challenge,” and the landing will be crowded with demonstrations for activities from wood stove cooking to mast making.
“We wanted to go for a living museum piece,” Bookham said. “And we have so many great restaurants for all tastes and budgets. People can have everything from a hot dog on the harbor to four-star fine dining.”
Bridget Qualey of Camden cooked on schooners in the 1970s and has been busy this summer helping to chair the festival’s Maritime Heritage Fair committee. She said that nearly 40 presenters will educate and entertain fair-goers.
“Our whole goal has been to have living presentations and activities rather than exhibits related to traditional maritime skills and fishing,” she said.
Qualey is eager to tempt the crowds with the apple pie, apple crisp and other delicacies she cooks up in her wood-burning cookstove — the same kind of stove still used today to whip up the famously delicious meals served to those on board the windjammers.
“When people think about wood-burning cookstoves, their faces kind of go blank,” she said. “I really love explaining to them how the fire moves around and to show them the ingenuity that people had in the early part of the 20th century to come up with this stove design.”
Other activities include a schooner crew talent show at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, at Harbor Park, fireworks scheduled for Friday night, a build-a-boat contest and lobster crate race on Saturday, a puppet show Sunday afternoon with the Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers and the music of Castlebay on Sunday evening in Harbor Park.
Bookham encourages visitors to rise early and come to the festival Saturday morning in time for the 7 a.m. departure of many of the windjammers, which need to set off on their scheduled trips around Penobscot Bay. The festival will set up bleachers for a better vantage point to watch the parade out of the harbor.
“It’s quite a spectacular sight when these boats put out to sea,” Bookham said. “People will have an amazing view of these gorgeous vessels.”
For information and a full schedule of the festival, which runs from Friday, Sept. 4, to Sunday, Sept. 6, visit www.camdenwindjammerfestival.com or call the Chamber of Commerce at 236-4404.