The Greenport Maritime Festival returns Sept. 18 and 19. 

The Greenport Maritime Festival returns Sept. 18 and 19.  Credit: Randee Daddona

Get nautical in Greenport at the 31st annual Maritime Festival on Sept. 18-19. The waterside festival began as an outdoor party that expanded to a sidewalk sale and then branched out into a full-blown event drawing thousands of people each year.

"This festival is a celebration of our maritime heritage," says festival co-chair and East End Seaport Museum treasurer Linda Kessler. "We want people to enjoy our waterfront which is still very much alive. In fact, our oyster industry is thriving."

Here are the weekend activities to participate in throughout the village:

MARITIME PARADE

The first day kicks off at 11 a.m. with a parade down Main Street including over 25 different local organizations such as Greenport Fire Department, Greenport High School Band, Safe Harbor Marina of Greenport, Brick Cove Marina of Southold, Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital of Greenport plus classic cars and a Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard.

Mark and Mary Bess Phillips of Greenport will serve as the Grand Marshalls. Capt. Mark has been a commercial fisherman for over 50 years and currently operates The Illusion, an 83-foot squid troller. The family also owns Alice’s Fish Market on Atlantic Avenue as well as Hook & Net clam shack on First Street.

"The Atlantic Ocean is my home," says Capt. Mark. "I show up on land but I live on the water."

MERRY MERFOLK CONTEST

Every year folks cosplay as different sea characters in keeping with the festival’s nautical theme. Participants will march together in the parade on Sept. 18, then meet in Mitchell Park immediately afterward where prizes will be given out for various titles (most artistic, most frightening).

"We’ve had octopus, sharks, jellyfish, fishermen and pirates," says contest creative director Caroline Waloski. "There’s no limit. Anything maritime related is acceptable."

KAYAK RACES

On the beach by the Shelter Island Ferry at the west end of Mitchell Park, kayak races will be held on Sept. 18. Kayak set up begins at 1 p.m., with races starting at 2 p.m. Teams of two will assemble their kayak from a kit then follow a mapped out course around a series of buoys.

"The races are a little haphazard, which is the fun of it," says festival co-chair/museum vice chair Dave Abatelli. "It’s a bizarre, out-of-control type of thing but very entertaining. People love to watch it."

CAPTAIN KIDD’S ALLEY

Children can get artistic with various maritime crafts such as making miniature boats or painting beach shells in Mitchell Park on Sept. 18 and 19 throughout the day. There’s even a hunt for a treasure chest with maps available at Claudio’s seafood restaurant.

SNAPPER CONTEST

Children can head to the commercial railroad dock behind the museum for the Snapper Contest on Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. (8 and under) and 2 p.m. (ages 9-16). Prizes will be distributed to the biggest catch of the day.

"We use old fashioned bamboo poles," says Abatelli. "People are not allowed to bring their own rod and reel."

BUG LIGHT CRUISE

Take a two-hour cruise to Long Beach Bar Lighthouse aka "Bug Light" between Orient Harbor and Gardiners Bay at 5 p.m. (arrive by 4:30 p.m.) on Sept. 18 launching off the commercial railroad dock. Make a reservation (adults — $49, children 12 and under — $19) via the museum’s website: eastendseaport.org/cruises.

BOAT DISPLAYS

The Columbia, a 141-foot fishing schooner, will be available for viewing on the East Pier at Mitchell Park Marina. However, there will be no tours aboard the vessel. Other historic and restored wooden and ice boats will also be on display on land in Mitchell Park as well as at Mitchell Park Marina.

FOOD TRUCKS AND CRAFT VENDORS

Over 100 craft vendors will be selling nautically themed handcrafted items and other wares plus many local businesses will be out on the street.

Grab a bite on Central Avenue and Main Street where food trucks like Eat Me Drink Me, Mattitaco, Chitty’s Cheesesteaks, Meat’s Meat and more will sell everything from seafood to hot dogs.

MARITIME FESTIVAL

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. — 5 p.m., Sept. 18 and 19 throughout Greenport Village, rain or shine

INFO 631-477-2100, eastendseaport.org

ADMISSION Free