Downrigging sails back to town
CHESTERTOWN — The Chester River will once again be filled with masts and sails this weekend as the tall ships of Downrigging Weekend make their way into the harbor.
“Expect lots of boats this year and a lot of visitors,” Drew McMullen, president of the Sultana Education Foundation, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “We’ve never had so much advanced registration before.”
The annual event, sponsored by the Sultana Foundation, begins Friday and runs through Sunday with select tall ships opening for tours starting at noon on Friday and public sails at 3 p.m.
This year’s ships include Kalmar Nyckel, Pride of Baltimore II, A.J. Meerwald, Lady of Maryland, Sultana, Els- worth, Sigsbee and, making her Downrigging debut, U.S. Naval Academy schooner Summerwind.
“We have the Summerwind for the first time this year,” McMullen said. “It will be full of midshipmen from the Naval Academy.”
The fireworks and ship illumination is set to start with the lighting of the ships at 6:30 p.m. Friday and fireworks at 7 p.m. The ship illumination will continue from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Across the Chester River bridge, the weekend continues with Dock Dogs, a premier canine aquatics competition. The Sultana Foundation has partnered with Kingstown Farm, Home and Garden and Delmarva Dock Dogs.
“Dock Dogs is new this year and is going to draw a lot of people,” McMullen said. “Easily 1,000 people are going to come out to see it.”
Participating pooches will compete in a variety of categories to see who can jump the farthest. Dogs will be jumping on two days, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday at 7271 Church Hill Road.
This year also is the inaugural year for the Sultana’s new education building, and there will be plenty of events for children taking place there, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, including a look at the foundation’s aquarium and a demonstration by Scales and Tails.
An artisan wine tasting, with wines from Clovelly Vineyards, Crow Vineyard & Winery and Triple Creek Winery will happen from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The tastings can be found at the Chestertown Marina’s dockside store next to the tall ships. Admission is $15 per day and includes a commemorative wine glass and seven tastings from any combination of the wineries.
The weekend does not limit itself to tall ships. Classic cars and boats from the 1920s through the 1960s will be on display throughout Chestertown. Around 20 award-winning cars and boats will be on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Inland at the Garfield Center for the Arts, Downrigging will be celebrated with music at 7 p.m. Friday, with The Pam Ortiz Band. Tickets are $15.
New to the Garfield, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Holy Ghost Tent Revival will perform. NPR describes the band as “soulrock horn band that recalls 60s and 70s classic-rock influences such as The Band and The Flying Burrito Brothers, contemporary indie-rock acts like Dr. Dog, and New Orleans brass-band jazz.” Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for students.
From 5 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, MassoniArt Gallery will host a Downrigging opening reception, titled “Fireworks and Oysters,” with beer, wine and paintings. MassoniArt will feature a Marc Castelli exhibition as an official partner event with the Sultana Education Foundation.
Through the weekend, the gallery will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Look out for local Jo Sorrentino and the international group called Shantitown who will be making an appearance at Downrigging.
“In years past, the team has raised funds for Kent Center in the Goosebump Jump, and this year will be raising funds for the food pantry,” Sorrentino said in an email Tuesday. “This group of people from as far as South Africa and Australia all come together for a love of crabs and exploring Kent County.”
The festival will include tall ships, food, live entertainment, art, lectures, car shows and more.
“Depending on the weather, it should be a big year for us,” McMullen said. “We’ve never seen so many people sign up so it should be a great year.”
For a complete schedule of events, visit sultanaeducation.org.
The Kalmar Nyckel sails on the Chester River during last year’s Downrigging Weekend. This year visitors to Kent County can expect tall ships, good food, live entertainment and more during the annual festival.
Tall ships like these will be featured at Sultana’s Downrigging Weekend on Friday, Oct. 28 to Sunday, Oct. 30 in Chestertown.