Tall ship festival coming to Chestertown
CHESTERTOWN — The Sultana Education Foundation has announced the schedule for its annual Downrigging Weekend Tall Ship and Wooden Boat Festival set for Friday, Oct. 28 through Sunday, Oct. 30 in Chestertown.
Now in its 16th year, Downrigging Weekend is one of the largest annual tall ship gatherings in North America and features four days of tall ship sails, deck tours, concerts, lectures, films, and exhibits.
Unique among Tall Ship Festivals on the East Coast, Downrigging Weekend offers visitors the opportunity to sail on a fleet of tall ships.
Over the course of Downrigging Weekend, a fleet seven historic vessels — including Kalmar Nyckel (the state ship of Delaware), A.J. Meerwald (the state ship of New Jersey), and the schooners Pride of Baltimore II, Lady Maryland, and Sultana will take passengers out for four joint sails on the Chester River.
Sailing tickets begin at $25 and are available at sultanaeducation.org. More information about the event and a complete list of events with times are available at that same website.
Making its first-ever appearance at Downrigging Weekend will be the U.S. Naval Academy’s 1929 schooner Summerwind. This storied vessel was a fixture on the coast of New England for decades, served as a sub-hunter in World War II, and plied the waters of the Mediterranean Sea as a charter vessel before returning to the United States in 2006 for a complete restoration.
Summerwind was recently donated to the U.S. Naval Academy where she is used to provide onthe-water training for midshipmen.
New for Downrigging Weekend 2016 will be the addition of the Delmarva Dock Dogs competition hosted by Kingstown Farm, Home and Garden. Taking place on both Saturday and Sunday, this competition will see dogs from all over the region compete to see who can leap the furthest. Local dog owners are welcome to enter their dogs in the competition and registration and scheduling information can be found at dockdogs.com.
Downrigging Weekend 2016 will benefit from a major new venue for the festival in the form of the Sultana Education Foundation’s newly constructed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Education Center. This stateof-the art facility will host an opening night party on Friday, Oct. 28, as well as a day of children’s activities and a lecture by ESPN/NBC Sailing analyst Gary Jobson on Saturday, Oct. 29.
The festival’s events will be rounded out by an exhibit of classic cars and boats on the waterfront in conjunction with the Antique & Classic Boat Society, concerts at the Garfield Center for the Arts by Holy Ghost Tent Revival and the Pam Ortiz Band and performances at the Fish Whistle Restaurant by the Saltwater String Band and Levi Stephens.
There will also be a waterside 5K and half-marathon hosted by the Chester River Association, a new exhibit by artist Marc Castelli at Massoni Art, food and cruises on Chestertown’s own River Packet, book talks by Stuart Walker and Roger Taylor at the Book Plate, a “Crab Skiff Rumble” with the Smith Island Crab Skiff Association, free oysters on the half shell with Echo Hill Outdoor School, a presentation on black watermen at Sumner Hall, the ever-popular ShoreVines wine tasting pavilion.
And, finally, the enormously popular nighttime illumination of the tall ships and fireworks display will be held over Chestertown’s historic harbor.
Tall ships like these will be featured at Sultana’s Downrigging Weekend on Friday, Oct. 28 to Sunday, Oct. 30 in Chestertown.