Downrigging brings busy weekend
By LEANN SCHENKE firstname.lastname@example.org
— Tall ships will once again sail the Chester River during the Sultana Education Foundation’s annual celebration of the last sail before winter, Downrigging Weekend Oct. 27 to 29.
“People love to see the ships take over the Chester River,” said Drew McMullen, president of the Sultana Education Foundation. “We estimate around 1,200 people will be out on the water.”
The event, which McMullen said is one of the largest tall ship festivals on the East Coast, has “tons new” this year and plenty for all interests to enjoy.
This year’s three-day event will include eight ships: Kalmar Nyckel, the state ship of Delaware; Pride
of Baltimore II, a reconstruction of an early 19th century Baltimore clipper;
A.J. Meerwald, an oyster schooner launched in 1928 and restored in 1996 by the Bayshore Discovery Project; Lady Maryland, a Living Classrooms schooner; Chestertown’s own Sultana, a reproduction of the 1768 namesake used by the British Royal Navy used in the years before the American Revolution; and Elsworth, a 1901 oyster-dredging skipjack.
The Lynx, a square topsail schooner that was designed after those used during the War of 1812, will be returning to the festival this year for the first time since 2008.
In addition to the tall ships, McMullen said there are expected to be lots of private sailboats heading to Chestertown for the weekend.
Events will begin at noon Friday when the tall ships are open for tours. Passenger sails begin at 3 p.m. and run until 5 p.m. Friday. Depending on availability, select ships will be open for
passengers from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
A favorite of photographers and onlookers alike, the ships will be illuminated from 6:30 to 9 p.m. each night during the festival. On Friday, the ships will have illumination from fireworks set off over the Chester River beginning at 7:30 p.m.
New this year, boats of all sizes will be covered in lights and paraded down High Street Friday in the Lighted Boat Parade to celebrate the opening night of Downrigging. The parade will start at 6:45 p.m. and make its way down High Street to the Chester River.
The boats will be judged for prizes in the categories “Most Original,” “Most Twinkle for the Buck” and “Kolossal Kilowatt.”
Spots are still available in the boat parade. To sign up, visit www.sultanaeducation.org and click on the tab “register for the boat parade.”
Saturday sees the return of last year’s favorite Dock Dogs. Pooches will be leaping for the longest distance from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Kingstown Farm, Home & Garden located just across the Chester River bridge.
For car enthusiasts, Ferraris will parade down High Street beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday before parking at the foot of High Street. Classic cars also will be on display along with classic boats from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For those wishing to learn more about the history of sailing and harbor towns, Downrigging will offer a number of lectures and book talks during the weekend.
Marc Castelli’s exhibit “Swinging the Lantern” will be open from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at MassoniArt along with an oyster bar. Castelli has been painting the watermen of the Chesapeake for more than 25 years. The exhibition highlights his depictions of life on the water.
Castelli’s work also will be on view at Sultana’s Holt Center at the corner of Cross and Cannon streets. Castelli captured the construction of schooner Sultana through a series of paintings between 1997 and 2001. There will be an opening reception for his work from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Holt Center. The exhibit will open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Additionally, Castelli’s book “Building the Sultana” will be released at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Swain Geography Classroom in the Holt Center.
At 8 p.m. Friday, Jonathan Boulware, executive director of South Street Seaport Museum, will give a lecture “The Street of Ships: The Recovery and Rebirth of New York’s South Street Seaport Museum” at the Garfield Center for the Arts. He will focus on the history of New York’s port and he will tell the story using history, photos and a bit of hyperbole.
Chesapeake Bay writer, educator and historian Kate Livie will give a talk at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Bookplate on Cross Street. Livie is the author of “Chesapeake Oysters: The Bay’s Foundation and Future.” She is the managing editor of Chesapeake Bay Magazine and adjunct professor at Washington College on Chesapeake environmental history.
Wendy Mitman Clarke, Washington College’s director of media relations, will discuss her book “Still Water Bending” at 3 p.m. Saturday also at the Bookplate. Her novel tells the story of a third-generation waterman and his estranged daughter.
The Holt Center, which opened last year, will have an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday. Throughout the day Saturday, there will be children’s activities at the center including a model boat and ship exhibit and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Scales and Tails.
Early Sunday, runners may race along the Chester River and by the tall ships for the Chester River Association’s Chester River Challenge Run. Runners have the option of a 5K or a half marathon. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the race starts at 9 a.m. in Wilmer Park.
Food and music will be available throughout the weekend in a tent set up in the Fish Whistle’s parking lot.
Music on Friday will include Shelby Hotwire from 5 to 7 p.m. in the tent and the High & Wides at 9 p.m.
Saturday’s music in the tent will include the Dove Tail Trio from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Chestertown Ukulele Club from 1 to 2 p.m., the Lions of Bluegrass from 3 to 5 p.m. and Levi Stephans and the Working Class at 9 p.m.
Hurry-Gurdy with Brian McCandless will play from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the foot of High Street.
The Pam Ortiz Band will close out live music on Saturday with a concert at 8 p.m. at the Garfield Center for the Arts.
On Sunday, the Dove Tail Trio will play again at 11 a.m. in the tent and Benji Price will play beginning at 1 p.m. there.
The Eastern Shore Wind Ensemble will close out musical performances during Downrigging with its concert from 4 to 5 p.m. at Emanuel Church in Chestertown.
Downrigging Weekend returns Friday, Saturday and Sunday to Chestertown. Featuring tall ships including Sultana, center, and Pride of Baltimore II, right, shown here during last year’s festival, the event is put on by the Sultana Education Foundation.
An eager pup springs forward with ease as it chases after a thrown toy last year during Downrigging Weekend DockDogs competition. The popular event returns this weekend to Kingstown Farm, Home & Garden.
Bringing history to life, Downrigging Weekend provides attendees with opportunities to tour and sail on historic tall ships.