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Fisherman’s Festival – 2011

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When I was a kid . . . (Cue gentle snoring).

Ahem. When I was a kid, we used to go visit my Great-Grandmother in Groton, VT for the annual Fall Festival. At the time I thought it was pretty hokey. They would have a parade, with the town’s single fire engine, kids with decorated bikes and marching people with bows around their pets’ necks.

We’d all attend the Chicken Pot Pie Supper in the evening, and in the morning, we’d go to the Lumberjack Breakfast.

I didn’t realize it then, but I now believe that we, as a people, need to celebrate these events each year, to help us form some sort of cultural memory.

Which brings me to the 38th annual Fisherman’s Festival on 4/28, 4/29 & 4/30.

Yup. Those are big fish in her hands.

Yup. That young lady is running with several large cod.

Of all the festivals that we celebrate in town, and there are a few, Fisherman’s Fest is my favorite. Here’s a taste of what you could expect when you attend this weekend;

The crowning of the “Shrimp Princess”  (a young lady between the ages of 9 and 12), on Friday night sets the tone and starts the festivities. And now the fun.just.doesn’t.stop.

The Pancake Breakfast kicks off 6:00 am at the Lions’ Club Hall, but if you miss that, starting at 7:30 coffee and doughnuts will be for sale on the Waterfront. 8:00 is the  Cod Fish Relay Race (see photo above). Immediately following that will be the Small Fry Cod Fish Relay Race for grades 5 through 8.

Then comes the Bait Shoveling Race at 8:15, and then the Trap Hauling Competition at 8:45. I’m serious. We consider this wicked fun!

Lobster Crate Running at 9:45, and yes, we do have EMTs standing by when these kids go into the water.  Dory Bailing at 10:30 and then the Tug of War at 11:15.

We’ll be rocking the dock from 1:00 – 4:00.

Well, after all that I’m heading over to McSeagulls to meet the Lobstermen, ’cause you can work up a powerful thirst after all this fun. Take my advice, though. Don’t feed the Lobstermen, or buy them a drink or you’ll never get rid of them! Lobster Bake all day and into the night. David Geary gave Ralph a good deal, so I’ll be taking advantage of both their good natures.

Sunday is a bit more sedate. After all, could you actually take TWO days of this pace? I think not!

At 12:00 there will be a  Burnt Island Lighthouse Tour and then at 1:30, a Memorial Service outdoor at the Fishermen’s Memorial. As the bells toll for each son or brother, father or husband lost, their names are read. Then at 3:00 we will have the Blessing of the Fleet, which I must say is really impressive-looking from the top deck at the Welch House. 

At 4:30 we will have the Fishy Fest Finale and Bachelor Lobsterman Auction at Knot Gray’s Wharf. There have been rumors of karaoke.

Now why am I going through this entire schedule? Well, like I said in the beginning, these annual festivals help shape a community, and I believe that the longer these celebrations are practiced, the stronger a community becomes.  We’ll see in 100, 200 or more years from now.

It’s not crazy. I went to Vine Kurve (a wine festival) in a little town called Rettigheim in Germany with my friends one year. They said that they tried to make it every year, just like their parents and their grandparents had.  How long had this festival been going on when I attended in 1991?

1200 years. Same festival. Same street. And many of the same families, I’d imagine.

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