There are a variety of annual events in MidCoast Maine. No matter what you enjoy, you’ll always find something fun to do. The region celebrates everything from blues music and art to blueberries and lobster. However, you don’t want to miss Camden Maine Labor Day weekend when this “Jewel of the Coast” hosts one of the biggest festivals in celebration of sailing vessels. It’s the Camden Windjammer Festival, which offers activities for locals and visitors of all ages.
About the Camden Windjammer Festival
Organized by the Town of Camden Parks & Recreation, the Windjammer Festival is the largest gathering of sailing ships in the Northeast. It’s a celebration of maritime heritage during Labor Day weekend. This free event features the arrival of the windjammers, nautical exhibits, and numerous activities. Most of them are held at Harbor Park across from Camden Public Library and on the public landing.
What You Can Expect at the 2019 Camden Windjammer Festival
In 2019, the Camden Windjammer Festival will begin on Friday, Aug. 30, at 9 a.m., but the arrival of the windjammers in Camden Harbor will be at noon. You’ll be able to see more than a dozen schooners and windjammers parade into the harbor. There will be a narration of the history of each sailing ship and its master. At 5 p.m., there will be a formal welcome ceremony for the windjammer fleet, and each captain will receive a friendship pineapple.
Windjammer weekend won’t end until Saturday, Aug. 31, at 10 p.m., so there’s plenty of time to see the sailing ships. Aside from that, there are several things that you might not know about the festival and the many nautical activities available. Keep in mind that the times could change.
1. Exhibits of Maritime Traditions and Crafts
On both days of the festival, you can see displays of maritime heritage on the Camden public landing. The exhibits of nautical traditions and crafts will be accessible on Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2. A Treasure Hunt
As soon as the Windjammer Festival opens on Friday, you can register to participate in the treasure hunt. The registration period ends at 9:30 a.m. and the scavenger hunt runs from 10 a.m. to noon. With a team, you’ll venture downtown to mull over clues and riddles to gather a variety of maritime-related “treasures.”
3. Windjammer Dinner Auction
Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday, you can participate in an auction for dinner on a windjammer. The auction will be held at the Maine Windjammer Booth on the public landing. The winning bidders will join the schooner crew for Friday-night dinner and fireworks on the sailing vessels.
4. Food Vendors and Restaurants
Also on the public landing, the festival will have an array of food vendors. In addition, restaurants and stores in downtown Camden will be open during the festival. In fact, some of the best restaurants in Camden are located in the downtown area and along the waterfront.
5. Ensemble Concert, Talent Show and Fireworks
At 6 p.m. on Friday, join the crowd to listen to Bay Winds North Wind Ensemble for a concert at Harbor Park. The ensemble is a community, volunteer-based concert band from Rockland. Composed of musicians of all ages, the group performs throughout the summer and participate in parades.
After that, the schooner crew of the Maine Windjammer Association will perform an entertaining and whimsical talent show from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Others are welcome to join the show too. This event is followed by fireworks over Camden Harbor at 9 p.m.
6. Nautical Dog Show and Camden Walking Tour
During the Labor Day weekend festivities, P.A.W.S. organizes the Nautical Dog Show. It features a doggy costume contest and agility demos. Locals and visitors can register their dogs for the show online. There’s no fee, but donations benefit the no-kill shelter.
With your furry friend, you can join the walking tour of the historic downtown area. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best pet-friendly things to do in Camden. From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, the tour includes identifying the buildings that were once woolen mills, ship captains’ homes, boathouses and the theater that premiered the soap opera “Peyton Place.”
7. Pancake Breakfast and Chowder Challenge Lunch
On Saturday, the windjammer Camden fest starts with a pancake breakfast. From 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., the Camden Rotary Club will serve delicious pancakes on the public landing. Then between noon and 2 p.m., the West Bay Rotary Club will host a chowder challenge. This gives you the chance to sample a variety of chowders and cast your vote for a champion. The proceeds from both meals will go to local charities.
8. Pirates of the Dark Rose
In fun nautical fashion, the Camden Windjammer Festival has commissioned the Pirates of the Dark Rose to perform duels and recruit festivalgoers. These professionals will roam around the festival with their blades. You might even see their pirate ship in the harbor.
9. Lobster Crate Race and First Fish Relay
As soon as the festival opens on Saturday, registration is open for the lobster crate race and first fish relay. The lobster crate race will begin at 11 a.m. and involves running across a line of lobster crates without falling into the water. It’s very similar to the race that’s held during the Maine Lobster Festival.
The first fish relay starts at 2 p.m. and involves teams carrying slippery fish and tossing them into the hold of a ship. Then, they race a short course to determine a winner.
10. Build-a-TINY-Boat Kids’ Event
For kids, there’s a great activity at 10 a.m. on Saturday that allows them to construct their own miniature boats. Later in the day, they get to test out how seaworthy that their build-a-boats are with the chance to win trophies.
11. Windjammer Open House and Boat Parade
Do you want the chance to see inside of a windjammer fleet? You can hop aboard a schooner between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday to get an up-close look. However, don’t miss the boat parade at 4 p.m.
12. Live Music at the Harbormasters’ Dance Party
The windjammer festival ends with a big celebration at the Harbormasters’ Dance Party. From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., there will be live music on the public landing. Everyone is invited to join the fun.
Best Place to Stay for Windjammer Weekend in Camden
To enjoy everything that Camden Maine Labor Day weekend has to offer, you need a central location to get some rest. The Country Inn is a short drive from the downtown area. We have a variety of guest rooms and open our cottages from May through October. When you plan a trip to the festival, don’t forget to check out our special deals to enhance your stay.