HarborFest Set to Return


The slight chill in the air the past few days has put many in the mind for HarborFest, the annual fall celebration of Sag Harbor’s maritime history. The festival will take place this year on the weekend of September 12-14 and will feature three days of contests, food tastings, historic walking tours, music and more.

This is the 16th year in a row that the village has celebrated with HarborFest, which regularly attracts thousands to the village’s Main Street and Long Wharf.

The weekend kicks off with an old-fashioned clam bake which benefits the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum and concludes on Sunday afternoon with a clam shucking contest on Long Wharf and a concert Sunday evening with jazz legend Hal McKusick at the Old Whalers Church.

Saturday’s activities kick off with a gala parade down Main Street beginning at 10 a.m. Leading the parade will be this year’s grand marshal Bob Freidah.

“It’s going to be great, everybody’s excited,” said Barbara Schmitz of the Sag Harbor Chamer of Commerce, which is sponsoring the Fest.

“Bob has been a big part of HarborFest; he just loves it and has always been there for us,” said Schmitz, who is helping to coordinate the parade.

Freidah, who was a director and past chairman of the Old Whalers Festival, the precursor to HarborFest, has volunteered each year helping to run the whaleboat races on Windmill Beach, and has served as a member of the HarborFest Committee since its inception.

Also on Saturday will be a children’s fair on the front lawn of the Customs House. The fair this year will be a benefit for the Alex Koehne Foundation and will feature games and activities for kids of all ages. And a tour and tasting of traditional African American and Native American foods will take place at the Eastville Community Heritage House.

Saturday also marks the first day of the whaleboat races, where teams of four compete against each other for the coveted Whalers Cup. There are divisions for both men and women who will each compete in two races Saturday, with the best scoring teams carried over for the championship races on Sunday. (For information or to register, call 725-1700).

Saturday will also see the Farmer’s Market on Long Wharf, where local produce and fresh seafood is available.

Food, in general, is a big part of HarborFest and Sunday morning opens with a pancake breakfast at the Main Firehouse on Brickiln Road. Also on Sunday is the popular Taste of Sag Harbor Food Fair, where a couple dozen local restaurants, caterers and wineries set up shop on Long Wharf to show off the best in local dining. (Call Lillian Woudsma at 329-2151 if you would like to participate).

On the beach Sunday organizers invite the kids down to test their strength with a tug-o-war in between the semi-finals and finals of the whaleboat races.

The weekend also includes a number of walking tours that explore the historic neighborhoods of Sag Harbor, including past the homes of whaling captains, through local cemeteries, and a special tour that highlights the powerful, interesting and downright bizarre women who have populated Sag Harbor.

Throughout the weekend will be a broad spectrum of music, ranging from traditional chantey singers to Sag Harbor’s own Community Band.

New to the festival this year will be a 5K race and a one mile run that will benefit the Piersong Girls Cross Country team. The races will be held on Sunday morning, and participants can register at a table set up on Long Wharf Saturday, or the morning of the race, which starts at the intersection of Long Island Avenue and West Water Street. The one mile race begins at 9 a.m. and the 5K starts at 9:30.

“We’re trying to incorporate more activities that are family oriented,” said Robert Evjen, president of the Chamber of Commerce. “Traditionally HarborFest is part of the fabric of this community, and it’s important to bring the community together to celebrate the village’s past.”

For more information, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 725-0011.