HarborFest sails to Marquette

A crowd of people checks out what the various vendors have to offer at a recent HarborFest. (Photo courtesy of Marquette West Rotary)

A crowd of people checks out what the various vendors have to offer at a recent HarborFest. (Photo courtesy of Marquette West Rotary)

by Pam Christensen

What do a schooner built for Gen. George Patton, a replica Spanish galleon, a reproduction 1812 era topsail schooner privateer and Hot Rocks, a Rolling Stones tribute band, all have in common?

They’ll all be part of Marquette West Rotary Club’s HarborFest 2016, of course.

HarborFest will be held in Mattson Lower Harbor Park Friday, August 26, and Saturday, August 27. For over 30 years, Marquette West Rotary has closed out Marquette’s summer with the community festival that combines seafood, craft beer, a classic car show, children’s activities and music. The festival is the fundraising mechanism for the Marquette West Rotary Foundation which, over the past 30-plus years, has distributed more than $700,000 in festival profits to Marquette County non-profit organizations. Sponsorship of the festival by Eagle Mine, Coors & Miller Lite, the City of Marquette and Radio Results Network make the festival possible and underwrite costs for music, venue and promotion. Without the generous sponsorship of these vendors, the festival would not be the signature event that Marquette residents and visitors look forward to each year.

The inclusion of three historic ships to HarborFest will bring an extra dimension to the celebration. In addition to their beauty, the ships will give visitors a glimpse of the ships that enabled the United States to be discovered by Europeans, prosper as a fledgling nation and earn its freedom. Fred Stonehouse and the Marquette Maritime Museum have been working overtime to make a visit from some of the ships taking part in the Tall Ships Great Lakes 2016 tour a reality for the Marquette Harbor. Not only has Stonehouse snagged one of the ships, but he has managed to lure three to our shores. During HarborFest the ships will offer tours and sail aways, both of which require tickets.

When and If is the name of a 63-foot John Alden schooner built for Gen. Patton. The schooner was built by renowned boat builder F. F. Pendelton in Wiscasset, Maine, when Patton was a colonel in the U.S. Army, and at the time World War II was building. Patton once explained the ship’s name: “When the War is over, and if I live through it, Bea and I are going to sail her around the world.” The historic ship has been a familiar sight along the eastern seaboard from Martha’s Vineyard to Maine. It was owned by the Patton family until 1972 when it was sold to the Landmark School in Prides Crossing, Massachussetts. There, it was used as part of the educational program for dyslexic children. The ship was built to sail around the world, and despite being written off as a total loss after a 1990 November gale in Marblehead that severely damaged the craft, it has once again taken to the water. Built of teak, mahogany and oak with a double hull, the craft was restored after being bashed against the rocks and ending up in pieces. It took over two-and-half years to restore the schooner to its original glory. The When and If was relaunched in 1994 in a ceremony presided over by Walter Cronkite.

The Coaster II, sets sail. Owned by Niko Economides, this historic schooner is a familiar sight in Marquette’s Lower Harbor, since it’s the official flagship of the City of Marquette. (Photo courtesy of Superior Odyssey)

The Coaster II, sets sail. Owned by Niko Economides, this historic schooner is a familiar sight in Marquette’s Lower Harbor, since it’s the official flagship of the City of Marquette. (Photo courtesy of Superior Odyssey)

In 2012, it was purchased by Doug Hazlitt, restorer of the schooner Malabar X. His goal was to return the ship to its original condition and sail it around the world. Tall Ships Great Lakes 2016 will be the When and If’s first appearance on the Great Lakes.

The Pride of Baltimore II has visited Marquette in the past. The topsail schooner is owned and operated by the non-profit Pride of Baltimore, Inc. The organization uses the ship to promote the City of Baltimore and encourage tourism for the state of Maryland. The ship visiting Marquette replaced the Pride of Baltimore, which was capsized and lost in a storm in 1986. A microburst squall struck the Pride as she traveled home from the Caribbean. Winds over 92 mph hit the vessel. The captain and three crew members perished, while the eight remaining crew members drifted on a partially inflated life raft for four days until they were rescued by the Norwegian tanker Toro.

The Pride of Baltimore II is not a replica of a specific vessel, although it represents the type of vessel called a Baltimore Clipper. Designed by Thomas C. Gillmer, The Pride II is a topsail schooner built for seaworthiness and comfort in contemporary standards.


El Galeon Andalucia, a reproduction 16th Century Spanish galleon under sail. (Photo courtesy of the Nao Victoria Foundation)

El Galeon Andalucia, a reproduction 16th Century Spanish galleon under sail. (Photo courtesy of the Nao Victoria Foundation)

The oceans, seas and lakes can be dangerous for all sailing vessels, but more so for masted sailing vessels. On September 5, 2005, the Pride of Baltimore II suffered a complete dismasting while sailing in a squall in the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of France. Luckily, there was no loss of crew and the ship was able to return to port under motor power for repairs.

Schooners are not an unfamiliar sight on Lake Superior and in Marquette. The City of Marquette’s official flagship is the 58-foot schooner Coaster II, owned by Niko Economides. Coaster II offers a variety of exciting sailing trips on Lake Superior. Whether customers select a two-hour sail or two-day adventure, Economides and crew make sure their passengers develop an appreciation of and affection for the schooner while seeing the beauty of the Upper Peninsula from a unique water-based perspective. The Coaster II is a familiar and beloved sight in Marquette’s lower harbor.

These sleek and speedy ships were used in the past to supply ports along the Lake Superior shore. What is unusual is to see a Spanish galleon plying Lake Superior waters. That vision will come true when El Galeon Andalucia sails into port. It is a 170-foot, 495 ton, authentic wooden replica of a galleon that was part of Spain’s West Indies fleet. The galleon was built based on 16th century European technology. Its mission is to highlight the 500-year history since the arrival of Juan Ponce de Leon on the eastern shore of Florida. Based in St. Augustine, Florida, for the foreseeable future, El Galeon Andalucia carries Florida history exhibits in addition to its crew of 18. The crew lives aboard the ship seven days a week; in addition to sailing the vessel, they try to share the glory age of Western expansion into the Americas. The knowledge and experience of the sailors and their ancestral past bring to life the adventure that was embodied in the Spanish expeditions sent to survey the American coasts in the 16th century.

In 2006, the Nao Victoria Foundation began efforts to reconstruct to scale a 16th century Spanish galleon. The foundation’s specialized team includes historians, paleographers and documentarists who research Spanish and European archives to find original documents, maps, plans, drawings and icons from the 16th to 19th centuries. These materials are then used for documentaries, educational and outreach purposes. There is much going on behind the scenes of this spectacular ship and her travels.

Another facet of the festival is the Saturday Classic Car and Motorcycle Shine and Show. Held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., proud automobile owners can bring their cars and motorcycles for display. A variety of motorized vehicles are featured during the show, and owners are onsite to talk about the vehicle they have on display. The South Shore Fishing Association Tournament will be held during the day.

Children’s activities will be available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Inflatable games and other events will provide family fun.

HarborFest was previously known as Seafood Fest, and each of the food vendors featured at the event are expected to serve at least one item featuring fish or seafood. Vendors bring diversity to the food offerings and allow customers to select their favorite foods to enjoy during the music presented during the two-day festival. Craft beer, wine and soft drinks are also featured at the event.

The musical offerings of the festival are what draw the biggest crowds. Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, the music includes local favorites Trailer Hitch, Not Quite Canada and 906.

Saturday music line up will begin at 1 p.m. with Gerry and Allison, followed by Pit Crew at 3 p.m., then The Derrell Syria Project at 5 p.m. Outlawed will play from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The Midwest’s biggest and best Rolling Stones tribute band, Hot Rocks, will begin their performance at 9 p.m. Hot Rocks presents a total celebration and theatrical experience, combining the music, costumes and energy of the Rolling Stones. The group promises to entertain and delight fans with an authentic classic rock tribute to one of rock and roll’s most legendary bands.

More information about HarborFest is available online at marquettewestrotary.org/harbor-fest/ or by contacting Marquette West Rotary at marquettewestrotary@gmail.com.

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