11 ships announced for this summer’s festival
This summer on Narragansett Bay is going to begin with a powerful one-two punch that promises to bring thousands of visitors to the area, and to inject a massive infusion of much-needed cash into the local and state economies.
While both events will be based in Newport, Jamestown is expected to reap major benefits as a result of its proximity to the county seat and its prime viewing locations on the bay.
The America’s Cup World Series starts things off with an eightday program that will run from June 23 to July 1. No sooner will the cutting-edge catamarans have been packed up and moved out of town when Newport County residents will be visited by ghosts of the nautical past in the form of the Ocean State Tall Ships Festival, which runs from July 6 to July 9. The last time the Tall Ships came to the area was 2007 – some 200,000 people attended.
Eleven tall ships have committed to being part of this year’s festival so far. Among them is the popular HMS Bounty. The ship was built for the 1962 film “Mutiny On the Bounty,” which starred Marlon Brando. Since that time it has been part of the more recent film “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which starred Johnny Depp.
Other ships in this year’s festival include the Picton Castle, Mystic Whaler, the Pride of Baltimore II, the Tree of Life, Unicorn, Providence, Gazela, the Spirit of Massachusetts, and Summerwind. Lynx, which visited Jamestown for several days in October, is also part of the fleet.
Lynx was modeled after a ship of the same name that was built by Thomas Kemp in Fells Point, Md., in 1812. The original vessel helped to blockade American ports against the British invaders and served as a privateer in the War of 1812.
The Providence should be of particular interest to Rhode Islanders. The 110-foot fully rigged sailing vessel is a replica of the first ship commissioned for the Continental Navy, which was commanded by John Paul Jones. The replica was built in Portsmouth in 1975 and it is the official flagship and Tall Ship ambassador for the state of Rhode Island.
The presence of the grand vessels, which will be docked along the Newport waterfront from the Newport Shipyard to Waite’s Wharf, will be celebrated with a three-day festival. The festival will be open on the first three days from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., with all of the vessels open for boarding during those times.
Daily tickets cost $12.50 for adults, $7.50 for children. Admission will allow boarding of all of the ships, as well as entrance to the other festival events. There are also multi-day passes and group rates available. Tickets are on sale now at OceanStateTallShips.com.
“During the festival, people will have the opportunity to buy tickets at the waterfront, but we encourage people to purchase beforehand so that we can gauge the crowds,” said Erin Donovan, executive director of Ocean State Tall Ships. “We are in the process of scheduling the musical performances and they will be announced soon.”
According to Donovan, the main festival locations will be at State Pier, Bowen’s Wharf and Waite’s Wharf. Each location will have a stage for live music presentations, readings, educational demonstrations and commemorations of the War of 1812. A variety of vendors and exhibitors will also be at each location.
One performance that has been announced is a concert by the Navy Band, which will take place on July 8 at 6 p.m. in Washington Square. The event is open to the general public.
At noon the following day the ships will head out to sea in a grand Parade of Sail as they begin the journey to their next stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia. That will be the prime time to view the fleet from Jamestown.
The Jamestown Chamber of Commerce sponsored an event aboard The Lynx while it was in port here. Executive Director John McCauley remembered it fondly. “It was great,” he said. “The crew they have on there are mainly young people who are dressed in period costumes and talk about the experience of the 1812 era. You really get a flavor for it.”
McCauley said that the event is going to mean a lot for local businesses.
“The Tall Ships have a great history of coming into Narragansett Bay going back to colonial times,” he said. “In modern times, one of the most memorable visits was in 1976, for the bicentennial. There was a huge parade and it was a big deal, particularly off Jamestown, because of the viewing areas. That’s been followed up several times.”
The chamber director recalled that the last time the Tall Ships were in the area five years ago. He said there were a lot of visitors to the waterfront at East Ferry, which in turn brought a lot of traffic to the retail businesses, restaurants and real-estate firms of Jamestown.
“People come back again – or for the first time to Jamestown – and really see the beauty of it,” McCauley said. “Hopefully the weather will cooperate and it will be another great success.”
According to McCauley, the chamber stands ready to assist local businesses in any way it can in terms of promotion, and assistance to the town. “I think we’ll have a good turnout at East Ferry,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun kickoff for the summer.”