The annual Maritime Festival in Greenport features classic boat displays, mermaids,...

The annual Maritime Festival in Greenport features classic boat displays, mermaids, kayak races, music, children’s activities and maritime demonstrations. Credit: East End Seaport Museum,/Joe Maddalone

The 33rd annual Greenport Maritime Festival has been postponed “out of an abundance of caution” due to a potential tropical cyclone approaching the East Coast, according to the East End Seaport Museum. Friday’s gala will remain as scheduled, while Saturday and Sunday events are postponed until Sept. 21 and Sept. 22 of 2024.

Over the course of the weekend, visitors can adopt a nautical state of mind through a wide variety of activities that surround the sea.

“We try to bring back the early days of Greenport when it was a fishing port and boat manufacturer,” says festival chair David Abatelli. “The village was mostly active from the 1800s through World War II both building and repairing boats.”

WATCH THE PARADE

The festival kicks off with a parade down Main Street. 

Organizations marching include the Greenport Fire Department, the East Marion Fire Department, Safe Harbor Marina, Brick Cove Marina, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Mattituck Lions Club’s Strawberry Queen Alexandra Piscatelli, Greenport American Legion, North Fork Animal Welfare League, members of the Merchant Marine Academy, unicycler Todd Hart, Greenport High School’s marching band plus classic cars from the Peconic Bay Region of the AACA.

“We always have to sweat the weather, but we go rain or shine unless a hurricane is coming,” says parade coordinator and emcee Joe Corso, who lives in Cutchogue and Greenport. “Even if groups show up that day, they can march. We get everybody in.”

This year’s Grand Marshals leading the parade will be the Goldsmith family, owners of Goldsmith’s Boat Shop in Southold, which is currently celebrating its 100th year in business.

“The East End has a very rich maritime history and we are extremely proud to be recognized as part of that culture and heritage," said the family in a released statement.

MEET THE MERRY MERFOLK

Make way for the Merry Merfolk as a group of 75 locals dress up as pirates, mermaids and sea creatures who march in the parade and then compete in a costume contest at noon on Sept. 23  at the Mitchell Park stage on Front Street.

“This is another way people can connect with the sea and our bays,” says Merry Merfolk parade organizer Kimberly Barbour from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program. “Last year, we had a 1/2 lobster 1/2 "Phantom of the Opera"-looking couple. They were dressed to the nines, which was both funny and creative. It's a fun vibe.”

However, there’s some science and environmental awareness put into the activity.

“We are currently looking to raise awareness of our eelgrass restoration efforts,” says Barbour. “Marchers have streamers that signify eelgrass. We are trying to tie in the science behind the marine habitat for our local species.”

WATCH THE KAYAK RACES

A series of kayak races will get everyone’s blood pumping on Sept. 23  at 3 p.m. from Mitchell Park Beach with registration beginning at 2 p.m. Teams of two follow a routed course on the water around a series of buoys. Child participants under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, who is required to sign a waiver. Some life vests are available, however it is strongly suggested that racers bring their own.

“The kayaks are made out of simple pieces of wood that are assembled into a frame and then wrapped in a heavy clear plastic,” says Abatelli. “The races are very entertaining to watch and the dock is big so there’s plenty of room for people to see all the action.”

JOIN THE CARDBOARD REGATTA

New this year will be the inaugural Cardboard Regatta on Sept. 24  at 1 p.m. where contestants build boats out of cardboard and duct tape then race them on the water off Mitchell Park Beach.

“It's a fun-filled activity for families and the community to have some good clean competition,” says event coordinator Diane Tucci. “Your success all depends on how well the boat is constructed. Some will float and some will sink. That’s the whole excitement of the day.”

Participants must follow specific rules and requirements listed on the festival website plus pay a $15 registration fee. Those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Boats can hold up to eight people depending on the size and each one must get inspected before the race. In addition to first, second and third place, the judges give out awards in various categories such as slowest finisher, most spectacular sinking, prettiest or ugliest boat, as well as best constructed.

“Contestants are even encouraged to plan a costume and a theme if they want,” says Tucci. “This will be as much fun for the spectators as it will be for the racers.”
Regatta racers should be prepared to bring their own life vests.

SNAPPER CONTEST FOR KIDS

Hosted by East End Seaport Museum & Marine Foundation (EESM),...

Hosted by East End Seaport Museum & Marine Foundation (EESM), the Annual Maritime Festival in Greenport benefits educational programs, museum offerings, and the preservation Long Beach Bar (Bug) Lighthouse.  Credit: East End Seaport Museum,/Joe Maddalone

Kids can go fishing during the Snapper Contest on Sept. 24  at the dock behind the East End Seaport Museum on Third Street. Wego Fishing Bait  and Tackle of Southold provides bait and bamboo rods for all participants to use.

“It’s incredibly lively and enjoyable to watch these kids fish because some have never done it before,” says Tracey Orlando executive director of the East End Seaport Museum and festival committee member.

Groups are broken down into ages 8 and under at 1 p.m. and ages 9-16 at 2 p.m. A team of volunteers will be available to assist the kids.

MITCHELL PARK ACTIVITIES

A stage has been added to Mitchell Park where live entertainment will be rolling on both festival dates.. Bands Bangers and  Mash and Fiddler’s Green are set to perform sea chanties while circus player Keith Leaf will juggle and tell jokes as pirate performers are inter-spliced between acts.

Throughout the park, antique boats such as sailboats, ice boats and training vessels from the Merchant Marine Academy will be displayed on land. An  addition this year is the Beebe Surfboat, created by Frederic Beebe of Greenport, which was used for rescue purposes all over the east coast. 

“These were launched off the beach into the ocean when there was a shipwreck situation,” says Abatelli. “It really brings back some of the accomplishments of our builders and boating industry.”

Hosted by East End Seaport Museum & Marine Foundation (EESM),...

Hosted by East End Seaport Museum & Marine Foundation (EESM), the annual Maritime Festival in Greenport, benefits educational programs, museum offerings and the preservation Long Beach Bar (Bug) Lighthouse.  Credit: East End Seaport Museum,/Joe Maddalone

Other Mitchell Park activities include Captain Kidd’s Alley where Girl Scouts help younger children make nautical crafts. Additionally, each child will have a chance to unlock Captain Kidd’s treasure chest for a prize. 

An oil spill response trailer from Douglas Marine will show how the environment is protected. Meanwhile, guests can take the Sea Tow Life Vest Challenge, which is used to enforce water safety.

“You reach into a bag filled with life vests, get the right size and attempt to put it on properly in under 30 seconds,” says Orlando. “A video gets uploaded to the Sea Tow Foundation site and awards will be given out.”

There will also be Games on the Green, a self-led area where kids can race with potato sacks or play with hula-hoops, Wiffle balls and more at the fest.

FOOD BOOTHS AND VENDORS 

Oyster sucking on Main Street during the Greenport Maritime Fesitval...

Oyster sucking on Main Street during the Greenport Maritime Fesitval in Greenport. Credit: Randee Daddona

Local restaurants will set up booths and a series of food trucks such as Emily’s Apple Puffs, Portobello restaurant’s Tiki Trailer and Chiddy’s Cheesesteaks make up a food court on Third Street off Main Street.

More than 100 vendors  will sell handmade and nautical items  along Front Street and  Main Street.

33RD ANNUAL GREENPORT MARITIME FESTIVAL 

WHEN | WHERE The event has been postponed 

INFO 631-477-2100eastendseaport.org

ADMISSION Free ($15 registration fee only applies to the Cardboard Regatta)

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