HarborFest Set To Return To Sag Harbor In September

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HarborFest 2019. MICHAEL HELLER

HarborFest, a post-Labor Day tradition that attracts tourists and locals alike to the Sag Harbor waterfront, will return the weekend of September 11-12.

The event, which draws thousands of people to Long Wharf for attractions like the annual whaleboat races, took a hiatus last year because of the pandemic.

“It has been such a long, hard slog,” said John Leonard, the treasurer of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and the chairman of its HarborFest committee. “I think people are really geared up to get out in the beautiful weather we usually have at that time of year to make a full weekend in their community.”

“We’re thrilled to bring back HarborFest after it was canceled last year due to the pandemic,” said Gavin Menu, the president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and the co-publisher of the Express News Group. “The event has always been a way to bring the local community back together after a long, busy summer, although this year it’s more like a long couple of years.”

HarborFest 2019. MICHAEL HELLER

Mr. Leonard said the schedule of events is still taking shape. “Everyone was very tentative at first,” he said, as participants waited to see what would happen with the pandemic “But now we have vendors clamoring to get involved.”

The Express News Group will host a HarborFest Kickoff Party on Friday, September 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Breakwater Yacht Club. The event will be free for all subscribers and regular advertisers of the company, and will feature live music by The Nancy Atlas Project, with complimentary wine, beer and light bites. There will also be a small boat show, with local charter boats and retailers bringing their vessels to dock at Breakwater.

“We want to provide an opportunity to celebrate Sag Harbor and bring our community of supporters together to have fun, especially after such a difficult stretch of time,” Mr. Menu said.

Whaleboat races will return, of course, with rowers Ray Pettigrew and Billy Martin of Team Whalers seeking their 20th Whalers Cup Championship. “

Ever since the early days of the festival in the 1960s, whaleboat racing has been the heart and soul of HarborFest,” said Mr. Menu, who helps run the competition alongside Sag Harbor Express publisher emeritus Bryan Boyhan. “I’ve spoken to many of the regular competitors, and they’re excited to get back on the water off Windmill Beach.”

The musical offerings will be expanded this year, as will the fun and games for children with some aspects of the festival moving into John Steinbeck Waterfront Park. Sag Harbor’s rich history will be on full display across the village with groups like the Sag Harbor Historical Society, the John Jermain Memorial Library, the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum and the Eastville Community Historical Society hosting events and happenings all weekend long.

The Chamber’s annual HarborFest Father’s Day Arts & Crafts Fair will be held in Marine Park on Bay Street on Saturday and Sunday. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, with more than 50 talented artists and crafters displaying their work for sale.

Although technically not part of HarborFest, the Parks and Recreation Association of Sag Harbor will launch its annual 5K run/walk to help raise money for Mashashimuet Park improvements on Saturday, September 11. This year’s event, “A Grand-run for the Grandstand” will raise money for the refurbishment of the park’s grandstand, which was built in 1908 and needs some tender loving care.

The run, which will follow a course in the park and along a trail in the Long Pond Greenbelt before ending at the grandstand, will start at 8:30 a.m. Participants can register at mashashimuetpark.org/5K.

“HarborFest was too important a tradition to let it fade away,” Mr. Menu said. “We’re hoping to return this year with a festival that is better than ever. There’s a lot of work to do, and it truly takes the entire village for the event to come together. But I think we’re all looking forward to celebrating our community together come September.”

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