Welcome aboard as New Bedford, America’s largest commercial fishing port, hosts the 9th Working Waterfront Festival. The FREE event takes place September 29th and 30th on the working piers and waterfront parks of the historic Port of New Bedford. Free parking is available at the Elm Street Garage with a free shuttle to the Festival.
More than simply a celebration, the Working Waterfront Festival is a unique opportunity for the public to get a firsthand look at the culture of fishing and for the commercial fishing community to tell its own story. The event presents all that goes into bringing seafood from the ocean to the table in a way that is hands-on, educational and fun. We encourage you to listen and watch, but also to taste, touch and converse.
The 2012 Festival theme Fishtales: Fact, Fiction and Narrative Tradition in Commercial Fishing Culture will explore enduring myths, local legends, and fact and fiction in contemporary fisheries issues.
NEW THIS YEAR
- Man Overboard Demo: Watch a dockside demonstration of how fishermen on deck must act quickly to rescue a crew member who has fallen overboard.
- Wire Splicing Demo: Watch experts as they join wire to create cables that are used for everything from towing nets to hauling traps.
- New Format – This year in addition to showcase sets featuring individual performers, look for workshops in which multiple performers share the stage with fishermen and others from the industry, combining music, poetry, and real life storytelling around a particular theme.
- Healthy Eating – This year’s Seafood Throwdown will challenge chefs to prepare kid friendly seafood using local produce and a surprise seafood ingredient.
- Fishtales Story Station – Have a good fish story? We’ll be collecting real life stories from fishermen and others in the industry at the Fishtales Tent on Steamship Pier as part of our Community Documentation Project.
The Festival brings together a unique array of music and poetry. Performances include traditional sea chanteys and music reflecting the fishing industry’s ethnic diversity as well as poetry, storytelling, and music about commercial fishing and the sea often performed by musicians who work in the industry. In keeping with this year’s theme, many of the 2012 performers are master storytellers whether presenting their tales through poetry, prose or song.
The legendary Gordon Bok makes a rare Festival appearance this year. For over 30 years, Gordon has written, sung, and helped to preserve the heritage of the working watermen of the Northeast. His legacy includes over thirty recordings featuring his own compositions and traditional and contemporary folk songs from around the world. The Johnson Girls, an energetic, all-woman, a cappella group, bring their extensive repertoire of sea chanteys and work songs from ports around the world. Storyteller Jackson Gillman draws upon his fishy repertoire from the sandy beach and the briny deep. Bob Quinn, a lobsterman and mail boat driver from Eagle Island, Maine, performs recitations created by his uncle, Carl “Bonney” Quinn, in the 1930s. Mary Garvey, one of the Northwest’s most acclaimed and prolific songwriters shares original songs about the fishers of the Northwest. The Rhode Island based Sharks Come Cruisin’ return with their unique sound which has been described as sea chantey punk. Local legend Ana Vinagre performs Portuguese fado, a tradition which grew up in the port city of Lisbon and speaks to the Portuguese involvement in commercial fishing in the old country and the new world.
Several performers who write from personal experience working in the industry are also on tap for the weekend including festival regular Jon Campbell who leads Something Fishy, a song/poetry swap of material created and performed by fishermen. Also included in this group are several fisherpoets Dave Densmore and Rob Seitz, working west coast fishermen and staples at the annual Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, Oregon and Charlotte Enoksen who grew up in a New Bedford fishing family and writes poetry from the home front. Festival favorites, Souls of the Sea, a Gloucester-based folk-rock trio performs on Saturday. The New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus performs on Sunday.
The United Fishermen’s Club will be serving fish and chips, fried scallops, and clam cakes. The Newburyport Crab Company offers crab cakes, lobster rolls with drawn butter, and lobster mac n’ cheese. R. Shucks Raw Bar will have oysters and clams on the half shell. Destination Soups will be serving chowder, hot and cold soup and grilled cheese and tuna sandwiches. Other food vendors include: Café Arpeggio serving its’ own Home Made Ice Cream, Celtic Coffee House with coffee and pastries; Ray’s Kettle Corn and Del’s Lemonade.
The Foodways Area (Pier 3) features cooking demonstrations by galley cooks, ethnic cooks and celebrity chefs. Visitors are invited to learn the basics of preparing fresh seafood at home as well as ethnic approaches to seafood cooking and galley fare. Recipe cards will be available and the raw ingredients for most recipes will be available for sale at the Festival Farmers’ Market. This year’s Festival features a Seafood Throwdown on Sunday. Two chefs will compete to create a seafood dish using a surprise local seafood ingredient (not revealed to them until they arrive) and fresh, local produce. Chefs can bring three of their favorite ingredients and once they discover the secret seafood, they get $25 and 15 minutes to shop the Festival Farmers’ Market for ingredients. After their shopping spree, they have one hour to cook and present their entry for the judge’s consideration. This year’s contest will challenge chefs to make “kid friendly” seafood good enough to win over a panel of young judges. The contest will conclude with an opportunity for the audience to sample the dishes. The Seafood Throwdown is a collaboration between the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and the Working Waterfront Festival.
Sponsored by Edible Southshore, the Farmers’ Market (State Pier) features produce and specialty items from a number of local farms as well as informational booths. In addition fresh, local fish, scallops and lobsters will be available for sale.
The Dock-U-Mentary Film Area (Pier 3) screens historic and contemporary footage taken at sea and on shore, chronicling the history and experiences of the working waterfront and the commercial fishing industry. Several short documentary films will also be shown.
A number of well-known authors will read from and sign their books on commercial fishing, fishermen, seafood, and boats. Books will be available for purchase at our Festival Store located on Pier 3. Participating authors include: Abigail Calkin (The Night Orion Fell), Cindy Follet–Guildemond (Salt of the Sea), Ingrid Grenon (Downeast Schooners and Shipmasters), Brian Robbins (Bearin’s), Dawn Clifton-Tripp (Moontide, The Season of Open Water, and Game of Secrets), and Mike Urban (Lobster Shacks). We are also pleased to present two children’s authors who will present their salty tales aboard the Schooner Ernestina with scheduled story times on both days of the event: Daisy Nell (The Stowaway Mouse and Rocky at the Dockside), and Meghan Lapp (Fast Friends and Hello Stranger).
CONTESTS & DEMONSTRATIONS OF INDUSTRY SKILLS
Contests offer a unique opportunity to watch those who work in the commercial fishing industry show off the skills of their trade. All contests will take place on the Contest Stage (Steamship Pier). This stage will also be the site for presentations featuring the latest in safety related gear and demonstrating the “tools of the trade” associated with various types of inshore fishing and lobstering. This year’s contests include: Scallop Shucking, Fish Filleting, Net Mending, Link Squeezing, Splicing and Survival Suit Races. In addition, visitors can watch whaleboat races and a tugboat muster from the On Water Activities Viewing Area at the head of State Pier. Learn first hand about historic and contemporary skills of the industry by visiting the industry skills demonstration booths (Steamship Pier) including: net making, knot tying, rigging, scallop dredge making, inshore fishing and more.
BIG BOATS * LITTLE BOATS
Model boat makers will display a variety of workboats in miniature while youth from the local non-profit Greenfleet will demonstrate wooden boat building skills.
Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about the different types of fishing vessels first-hand by getting on board one or more of the vessels offering dockside tours and talking with the crew. Vessels offering dockside tours include: a wooden Eastern rig vessel, a deep sea clammer, a modern day scalloper, a Stonington dragger and a tug boat. In addition, a Coast Guard boat will be available for tours as well as Schooner Ernestina, a 108’ traditional schooner, the official vessel of the Commonwealth.
Whaling City Expeditions offers 55-minute harbor tours departing hourly on both Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Trail maps for a Self-Guided Dock Walk are available at the Waterfront Visitor Center.
ON THE WATER ACTIVITIES
- Whaleboat Races – The Buzzards Bay Rowing Club presents whaleboat races from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 29th. Come cheer on your favorite team. Best viewing: head of State Pier.
- Whaleboat Rides – Try your hand at rowing a replica whaleboat. Buzzards Bay rowers will be on hand to provide instruction at Coast Guard Park on Saturday from 2-5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
- Tugboat Muster – Watch tugboats at work as they compete for bragging rights in hawser tossing and pushing contests on Saturday from 3:30-5 p.m. Best viewing: head of State Pier.
- Mini Tugs – Several mini-tugs will present a parade of sail and some on the water antics as a lead up to the Muster on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
BLESSING OF THE FLEET
On Sunday, September 30th the 43rd Annual Blessing of the Fleet will take place on State Pier beginning at 1:00 p.m. A time-honored tradition, the Blessing gives the fishing community an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the successes of the past year and to ask that the Lord’s good blessing continue in the coming year to keep each vessel and its crew safe during each voyage.
Be sure to visit the Kid’s Activity Tent located on Steamship Pier for a boatload of make and take art activities Saturday and Sunday from 11 to 5 including fish prints, shell decorating, paper boat making and more. This area is staffed courtesy of the Art Education Program of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
A number of industry related non profit organizations and businesses have booths at this year’s festival Don’t miss the Maritime Artisans Marketplace featuring unique handcrafted work by sixteen regional artists.
Be sure to visit A Working Waterfront, a permanent exhibit on display in the Waterfront Visitor Center on Pier 3. For forty years, the Wharfinger building was the site of the city’s seafood auction. Today, in addition to welcoming visitors, the building houses a mini-museum commemorating the seafood auction and the City’s role in the history of the commercial fishing industry. The exhibit was created through a joint effort of the City of New Bedford, the National Park Service and the fishing industry.
The Working Waterfront Festival is supported by a diverse coalition of individuals, businesses and educational and cultural organizations. Producing Partners of the 2012 Festival are National Endowment for the Arts, Island Foundation and Whaling City Seafood Display Auction. Major support is also provided by The City of New Bedford, New Bedford Harbor Development Commission, SouthCoast Media Group, United States Coast Guard, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, National Council for the Traditional Arts and Massachusetts Cultural Council. The Festival is a project of the Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts.
The Working Waterfront Festival is a project of the Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern MA, a non-profit organization. The FREE festival, a family friendly, educational celebration of New England’s commercial fishing industry, features live maritime and ethnic music, fishermen’s contests, fresh seafood, vessel tours, author readings, cooking demonstrations, kid’s activities and more. It all takes place in New Bedford, MA, America’s #1 fishing port, on the last full weekend of September. Navigate to us at www.workingwaterfrontfestival.org.