Tuesday, December 06
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Celebrating the Maritime Festival

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Culturally significant, Greenport Village’s annual Maritime Festival honors a centuries-old history of a working waterfront that is still present in the modern day. Once a substantial whaling port with a successful shipbuilding industry, the small seaside village has grown in popularity over recent years with this same foundation serving as a major draw to the North Fork. Aquaculture is at the heart of many businesses, with local shellfisheries populating menus near and far, and lending itself to a growing tourism industry and improving local economy. With generations-old working boat shops still active, the once sleepy seaside village is now anything but. In its 28th year, the Maritime Festival will celebrate the past and present, and look forward to the future of Greenport.

First held in 1990, the Maritime Festival featured a bluefish derby, nautical tag sale, trips to Bug Light, whale boat races, and other small events in the quiet village along the waterfront and Mitchell Park. “Over the years the Festival has grown to incorporate street vendors, a food court, and entertainers, but always maintaining the salty atmosphere and personality of a nautical event celebrating the East End’s maritime history and lifestyle,” says museum board chairwoman Arlene Klein. “Presently, the entire Village of Greenport is a part of the festival. Classic seagoing vessels are displayed in and out of the water, children’s games, entertainment, demonstrations, and community-minded, informative non-profits are placed in Mitchell Park, which remains as the heart of the Festival.”

As the museum’s largest fundraising effort of the year, the weekend’s events kick off with the Land and Sea Gala. Located at the Greenport Yacht and Shipbuilding Co. where custom wooden boat builders have hangars, like the Langendals of Shelter Island who will open their workshop doors to the public, that are still active today. “The location is the primary highlight of both the Maritime Festival and Greenport commerce,” says event co-chair Sarah Phillips Loth. “There are over 15 working boat shops in the area that have been around for decades. It’s great to transform and highlight the area.”

When Ms. Loth first made the move to Greenport and opened her restaurant, First and South, she participated in the Land and Sea Gala as this was something many other local businesses did. Though the event was small, she recalls it being well attended, noting everyone there was local and donated time, products, money, or goods for raffle items, but you didn’t exactly know who was donating what. Ms. Loth saw the potential to make the event a standout in the community.

“The whole village participates, and I started asking questions as to why we were doing it,” Ms. Loth explains. “It’s about keeping the working waterfront alive. It’s impressive because you don’t see that in many communities. There’s an easy way to make it community based by highlighting the goods to support the museum. It’s like at the restaurant when we promote all of the different purveyors on our menu.”

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The Gala outgrew its space at the museum and moved to its present location today. Ms. Loth shares the Maritime Festival is a great way to keep the area thriving, honoring the deep history of the seaside village while looking toward the future of a growing community. Citing the rarity of all of the local businesses having the opportunity to work together under one roof – or tent, more specifically – the Land and Sea Gala serves as a huge welcome.

“The best is when you come out and shake hands with people you don’t know by face, but know by product,” Ms. Loth shares. “When you’re in a restaurant or buying wine, you don’t always know who’s behind it. Whether you work at the event or attend it, it’s very familial.”

Vendors include Greenport restaurants American Beech, First and South, Frisky Oyster, Halyard, and noah’s, along with vineyards such as Macari, McCall, Sparkling Pointe, and Lenz. 44 North Vodka, Croteaux Vineyards rosé truck, Greenport Harbor Beer truck, and Good Libations frozen cocktail truck will also be on hand. The event of course could not be complete without oysters, and Long Island Oyster Growers Association will shuck alongside Suffolk Project in Aquaculture Training (SPAT). Other collaborators include chalk artist Kara Hoblin, event planner Ashley O’Neil, REVCO and Custom Lighting of Suffolk, McBurnie Tents, and more.

The festival’s Grand Marshals of 2017 are Lisa and Richard Israel, who, though not village natives, have embodied the East End lifestyle when they became permanent residents of Greenport back in 1986. The couple have been active within the community over the years, supporting the Greenport School, Rotary, the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation, among other organizations. Their generosity and love of the community have made them a natural choice for this prestigious role.

Ms. Klein shares attendees of the festival can expect the ever-popular kayak contest and demolition derby, Pirate School, children’s snapper contest, classic vessels in and out of the water, touch tanks, working wood demonstrations and model shipbuilding demonstrations, and of course, the opening day parade with the Grand Marshals.

New this year will be an antique fire truck display with the new Long Island chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America on the railroad dock and the space behind the museum. This will include America’s first fireboat, Fire Fighter, which is docked there as well. Village newcomer, North Fork Art Collective, which is a newly opened working studio and gallery on Front Street founded by East End artists Emma Ballou, Scott Bluedorn, Madison Fender, Kelly Franké, Jeremy Garretson, Kara Hoblin, and Peter Treiber will sell art, including many smaller pieces and prints for $100 or less. Ms. Hoblin will also do a live chalkboard drawing in the cool, casual, and inviting space, which will serve as an extension of the “Depths in Fathoms and Feet” installation featuring works from her and Mr. Bluedorn at First and South.

“[The festival] helps enable the East End Seaport Museum to continue providing free adult and children’s programs, scholarships, lighthouse tours, the stimulating Museum with its changing exhibits and fantastic new Captain Bob’s Quarterdeck children’s room, the Blacksmith Shop, and the offshore Long Beach Bar ‘Bug’ Lighthouse,” Ms. Klein shares.

Keep the nautical history of Greenport alive with the Land and Sea Gala on Friday, September 22, and the Maritime Festival on Saturday, September 23 and Sunday, September 24. More information can be found online at eastendseaport.org.

Photos via: Katharine Schroeder, Madison Fender

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