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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Birchenough

The Schooners are coming ... the schooners are coming!!!

Our favorite weekend of the year is upon us, and we are so excited for this years Schoonerfest. I have talked about this in the past, and will continue to talk about this wonderful event that happens in Gloucester every Labor Day weekend.

What is Schoonerfest you ask? It is when 30 schooners come to Gloucester for a parade and a race like no other. It all begins during the week when the schooners arrive from all over New England, and as far away as Florida, and sometimes the Bluenose comes down from Nova Scotia. The schooners range in size; Small, Medium and Large (this is how the race is organized on Sunday).

Thursday evening is historically the schooner challenge event, when the schooners that are in town can participate in a friendly competition. They usually are who can hoist the sail the fastest, drop anchor the fastest and other sailing games. It is so much fun to watch.

Friday night there is usually a Block Party, the last one of the summer, to kick off the festivities, on Main Street, where there is music, dancing, performances, and lots of food to indulge in.

Saturday is Heritage Days, where the docks are open for deck tours, the water shuttle is open to take passengers to Rocky Neck, for lunch at the Studio, or to Ocean Alliance to view the Schooner on their dock. At the deck tours of many of the schooners have the crew and captain on board, and you can meet and talk to them about of these magnificent sailing boats. There are also many exhibits around the schooners with demonstrations and nautical things for purchase. We usually top the day off with a one hour sails one of the schooners.

Sunday (rain day Monday) is the culmination of all the days before. Sunday is the boat parade. Where you can watch from Stacey Boulevard or be in any of the many boats that are on the water. The schooners leave their berth and head to Stage Head where blank cannons are fired to the schooners and the schooners themselves shoots blank cannons back, it feels like you are back in the days of old. As the boats parade out of the harbor it is the most beautiful sight, all you see are yards of fabric across the harbor.

Next is the parade in the outer harbor, an event not to be missed. We bring Añejo out to the race and do what we call, play in traffic, to be a part of.

If you have a chance someday to come to Schoonerfest, I suggest you do. Even if you cannot get on a boat, it is a taken in the whole family would love.

These are pictures from last year, next week we will post from this years Schoonerfest.

Schooner Roseway, from Boston

Schooner When and If, from Salem, MA

Schooner Alert, Schooner Calabash & Schooner Columbia on the dock at night

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