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A scene from the 2016 East End Maritime Festival. (Credit: Jeremy Garretson)

The Maritime Festival will return to Greenport on Oct. 21 and 22 after its initial cancellation two weeks ago due to inclement weather. 

“My initial reaction was that the spirit of Greenport got sucked out of everyone’s sails,” said Rena Wilhelm, owner of The Weathered Barn, a boutique home goods store on Front Street. “When I heard it was rescheduled, I felt that it was a noble gesture on behalf of the village to support the tradition.” 

For over 30 years, the Maritime Festival has been a way for the village of Greenport to celebrate its deep-rooted maritime heritage alongside members of their community. It is also the main fundraising event for the East End Seaport Museum, which organizes the festival. 

The “rain or shine” festival had never before been canceled due to weather, so it came as a shock on the Thursday before the event when the cancellation announcement was made due to impending major storms. Disappointment amongst organizers, vendors, and those planning to spend their weekend celebrating Greenport and its history was palpable. 

However, the executive director of the museum, Tracey Orlando, and her team quickly came together with the Village of Greenport to reschedule the event for a mere three weeks later. 

“This event is the last shot for many of our local merchants before closing for the season – so the decision [to cancel] was not an easy one to make, although it was the right one for everyone’s safety,” said Orlando. “We knew we had to try to find a solution to reschedule in order to support our friends and neighbors who always support us.” 

At the Maritime Festival “Redux” — as it was announced on social media — plenty of the same educational exhibits and classic boats will be on display. Although some events, such as the Land & Sea Gala and the Mermaid Brunch already occurred, many have been successfully rescheduled for the new dates. 

The festival kicks off on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 21, with the fan-favorite “Merry Merfolk” parade, which sees colorful mermaids and mermen making their way through Greenport. This year’s weekend is slated to introduce many new activities, such as the inaugural cardboard boat races. Several new surprises that were not scheduled during the festival’s initial dates are also in the works.

“I am hopeful that the vendors can return to what I hope is a profitable weekend,” said Wilhelm. “Ultimately it is when everyone comes together to celebrate that really makes our village shine, that makes me the most happy.”  

Several vendors have already signed up for the rescheduled festival. Throughout the weekend, residents and visitors alike are invited to browse local vendors and businesses along Front and Main Streets as they learn about Greenport’s rich seafaring history. 

“I’m pleased to acknowledge that the festival organizers made amends with the vendors, a commendable gesture,” said Stephen Buczak, owner of North Fork Forager + Clothing Company and first-time participant in the festival. “I am now eagerly anticipating the opportunity to showcase my merchandise, connect with fellow vendors, and savor a Black Duck Porter from Greenport Brewery. I couldn’t be more excited” 

The numerous restaurants in Greenport also benefit greatly from this festival and were disappointed when it was canceled. Claudio’s Tavern and Grill, which shares a deep-rooted history of maritime heritage with the village, has always been a big supporter of the event and recently announced a pop-up kitchen featuring baked clams, lobster rolls, and clam chowder. The Waterfront Wharf behind the restaurant will feature face painting, arts and crafts, a petting zoo, and a magic show. A Stein competition will take place Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and there will be live music property-wide throughout the weekend. 

“Claudio’s is so married to the maritime history that we want to ensure that we celebrate it alongside the museum,” said Tanya Doggwiler, the marketing and community director for Claudio’s. “It’s a big moment to celebrate Greenport and our incredible community. This history is really important for people to remember and although Greenport is growing, its roots are always going to tie back to maritime and a close-knit community.” 

The excitement for the “redux” can already be felt throughout the village. Orlando herself is excited to have the opportunity to celebrate both the rich history and the community of Greenport. 

“I just want everyone to come out and give the village a giant hug,” said Orlando. “It’s such a small and dynamic place – we all know someone who lives and/or works in the village. Let’s help these folks out.” 

To find more information about the Maritime Festival Redux, head to the Museum’s website.