New London’s annual Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival arrives at a wonderful time, providing a summer-like event past Labor Day. Fall can wait. Let the outdoor music, the fun on the water and the good feasting continue. The heritage festival offers it all as it continues through the weekend.
The festival began on Wednesday with the “Maritime Career Opportunities Expo” at Submarine Force Museum in Groton. This was the more pragmatic part of the five-day event, providing an opportunity to introduce local high school students to potential marine trade jobs.
Thursday and Friday featured music and dancing, a parade of ships and other festivities.
And there was the traditional burning of an effigy of Benedict Arnold. The Norwich-born traitor did turn on his country and burn down New London, after all. His effigy had it coming.
But fear not if you couldn’t get the time off for churning, boarding or burnings, there is plenty still on the agenda. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, ship visitations continue. For many the highlight will be the chance to go aboard the USS Lassen, docked next to Fort Trumbull State Park, a guided-missile destroyer home-based in Jacksonville, Fla. And there will be plenty of other maritime craft to visit, from schooners to Coast Guard cutters. Visit http://ctmaritimefest.com/festivalinformation/ for a full calendar of events.
Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. visitors can load up on chowder and pick their favorites during the “Great New London Chowder Challenge,” featuring competing restaurants from the region and elsewhere in the state.
Also Saturday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. the Americana Music Festival, featuring several acts with Grammy Award nominations and wins on their resumes, will fill the downtown with good sounds. And the weather, sunny with temperatures in the 70s, promises to cooperate.
It is all about celebrating the region’s nautical legacy, and having a good time doing it. Congratulations to the organizers, volunteers and cooperating city officials who have engrained the Maritime Heritage Festival into the list of events that folks look forward to each year. The autumn festivals will take over soon enough, but there is no need to rush.
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