Greenport, the seaport jewel of the North Fork, is gearing up for its annual Maritime Festival September 19–21, and this year is a special one as the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary. The weekend is all about the roots of this seafaring town and its ongoing efforts to support the restoration of the “Bug Light” Lighthouse and other museum projects.
Every year the fest gets bigger and better. Last year saw 40,000 people streaming through the streets, enjoying everything from seafood to parades to crafts to ship tours. This year they expect even bigger crowds as some new events have been added to the mix.
“The main event we have expanded this year is the opening night Land and Sea Greenport Gala [at Claudio’s] on September 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.” says Keturah Hurst, Special Events Coordinator for the festival. “It’s been expanded into a full-blown gala with music, local foods, drinks, an auction and an afterparty. We will be honoring Otto Schoenstein, one of the pioneers among the extraordinary craftsmen responsible for the rebuilding of Long Beach Bar Bug Lighthouse. Schoenstein will also be the Grand Marshal of the parade on Saturday. Another special event that night is the unveiling of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s newest craft beer—the Bug Light Ale.”
“We will be celebrating Otto’s achievements, and the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation. WEHM will be broadcasting live as 25 local restaurants, six wineries, three spirit sponsors and one craft brew company share, showcase and highlight all the new and historic things that Greenport has to offer,” Hurst adds. All ticket holders will also enjoy free admission to the “official” after-party that will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight at The Blue Canoe with live music by The HooDoo Loungers.
On Saturday a big festive parade takes place along Main Street and along the waterfront after a blessing of the oyster fleet at 10 a.m.
“The parade is always the most popular event as it showcases all of the community,” Hurst says. “Last year we had the First Annual Merfolk Contest that was a big hit and one of the most charming, adorable things. We modeled it after The Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Last year was only open to children ages 5 to 12, but the parents were so into it that they felt left out. So this year we added categories for the adults to dress as their favorite sea god merman or mermaid goddess and another one for infants and toddlers under 5 that can be wheeled in custom strollers. The families really got creative last year so I imagine this year will be outrageous. All the merfolk march in the parade then there is the judging at Mitchell Park at noon.”
Saturday and Sunday have all-day events with boats displayed in Mitchell Park and the Village Marina. There will be special watercraft viewing, boat tours of the historic fireboat and one- or two-hour sailaways. The Maritime Museum and Railroad Museum will be open along with the Blacksmith Shop, all having special demonstrations. There will be oyster shucking at the park. The world famous carousel will be whirling for kids to catch the brass ring. The original Old Greenport Jail will be open for tours and photo ops. Other venues to check out include the Stirling Historical Society and the many Village of Greenport shops and restaurants..
Another new event this year is a screening of short films at the circa 1950s Greenport movie theater on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. There will be short films from the locally-based Historic Films, a documentary on Otto Schoenstein and the Lighthouse. The theater was renovated recently and has a great art deco vibe.
25th Annual Greenport Maritime Festival, September 19–21, For more info, visit eastendseaport.org.