News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, August 10, 2023
Blue Hill celebrates its maritime history
500 attend to enjoy a variety of events

Blue Hill Community Rowing

Blue Hill Community Rowing instructs newcomers on the “toss oars” command.

Photo by Carrie Jeffrey Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Carrie Jeffrey

The annual Maritime Heritage Festival returned to downtown Blue Hill for its fourth year on Saturday, August 5, at the town’s waterfront for “a fun summer day by the bay.” The festival was free to attendees and hosted a variety of marine-themed events and activities.

The festival’s mission is “to celebrate and preserve the significance of Blue Hill Bay to our history, economy and culture.”

The purpose “is to celebrate Blue Hill’s maritime history. Blue Hill wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the bay,” said Steve Brookman, festival founder.

The festival kicked off Friday night at the Blue Hill Public Library with a sea shanty concert titled “Songs of Ships and Sailors” with performances from Celtic music group Castlebay and duo Handsome Molly, who sing traditional and modern folk songs.

Saturday’s events started at 10 a.m. and wrapped up around 4 p.m. According to Brookman, there were approximately 500 people in attendance. The introductory rows given in Blue Hill Community Rowing’s 22’ St. Ayles skiff and outings on other small craft were the most popular events of the day, he said.

Other highlights of the festival were a boat show in the morning and a selection of different traditional small craft that were on display throughout the day. There were multiple live musical performances from the Brooklin Town Band, Leftovers, Calico and Waterborne and another performance by Handsome Molly.

The day also featured educational demonstrations and experiences. Marine Educational Specialist Captain Leroy Weed from the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries in Stonington explained to a crowd how a lobster trap works and is designed to be sustainable for future fishing.

“It takes eight years from being eggs until we can catch [lobsters]. We need to protect them,” said Weed during his demonstration.

Similarly, the Downeast Institute had a touch tank where people could pet a lobster, starfish and sea urchins among other sea creatures, while Wilson Museum from Castine had a ropemaking and small wooden toy boat activity.

Provisions for hungry festival-goers included options from Blaze Pizza, serving pizza and burgers, Harbor House Seafood Shack, with a selection of seafood options, and homemade ice cream from Stone Fox Farm Creamery.

Other businesses and organizations included local historical art from PNB Arts, as well as booths from Maine Maritime Academy, George Stevens Academy, Hewes Construction, Penobscot Marine Museum, Blue Hill Historical Society, Brooksville Historical Society and Brooks Boats Designs, to name a few.

“Everyone was happy. It turned out to be a perfect day,” said Brookman.

The Maritime Heritage Festival was founded by Steve Brookman and hosted by the Downeast Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association.

The Brooklin Town Band

The Brooklin Town Band performs traditional tunes for festival attendees on the Holt House lawn.

Photo by Carrie Jeffrey
Lobster trap demonstration

Leroy Weed from Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries in Stonington demonstrates the path a lobster takes into a trap.

Photo by Carrie Jeffrey
Blue Hill Community Rowing

Blue Hill Community Rowing instructs newcomers on the “toss oars” command.

Photo by Carrie Jeffrey