Maritime Fest to Launch Cardboard Boat Race

The East End Seaport Museum is always on the lookout for how its Annual Maritime Festival can build on the celebration of traditions that have made Greenport a nautical landmark on the East End.

This year’s festival, to be held the weekend of Sept. 22 through Sept. 24, is throwing down a new gauntlet to the community with its first ever Cardboard Boat Regatta, to be held Sunday at 1 p.m. on the Third Street waterfront between Port and the North Ferry to Shelter Island.

“Hopefully, our mayor will challenge another mayor to a race, or restaurants can challenge each other or Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” said the Museum’s Executive Director, Tracey Orlando. “Have fun with it, and do your homework.”

The first documented Cardboard Boat Races was held at the University of Indiana in 1974, and races are now held all over the country. 

The Maritime Festival’s cardboard boat rules are in keeping with the tradition of simple allowed materials — corrugated cardboard, duct tape, packing tape, latex caulk, rope or string and latex paint. All boats must be named.

There will be five divisions, including ages 12 and under, adult, single riders, full crews and a Privateers Outlaw Race.

Prizes will be awarded in 13 categories including such traditional prizes as first through third places,  and awards for creative costumes and themes, prettiest and ugliest boats, slowest finisher and Andrea Doria (spectacular sinking). Full details are at the Seaport Museum’s website at

Boats must be on the beach and registered to participate by noon for all but the Outlaw race. 

This year’s festival parade theme will be Maritime Mardi Gras — bring your beads, masks and costumes. It kicks off at Broad and Main streets at 11 a.m. Saturday and continues down Main and Front streets to Mitchell Park, where for the first time there will be a stage for awards presentations and music throughout the weekend’s festivities. 

The Beebe surfboat, built in Greenport and now stationed at the Amagansett Lifesaving Station, will be in Mitchell Park, and the Merchant Marine Academy will be bringing two vessels and 25 cadets. The Coast Guard will also be holding demonstrations.

The Goldsmith family.
The Goldsmith family.

This year’s Grand Marshals will be the Goldsmith family, whose Goldsmith Boat Shop on the Main Road just west of Greenport Village is celebrating its centennial year, making it the oldest continuously run marina in the nation.

“Their name is synonymous with the waterfront,” said Ms. Orlando, adding that Glenn Goldsmith also works to protect the waterways as President of the Southold Town Trustees. “They are perfect to represent the work we do at the museum and for the Maritime festival. “

This year’s Land & Sea Gala fundraiser, to be held Friday evening at Crabby Jerry’s beginning with a VIP cocktail hour from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., the main event from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and an after party at Claudio’s. Tickets are $175 for general admission and $225 for VIP access. Tickets are at

“It’s like going to a party with 400 of your closest friends,” said Ms. Orlando.

While the museum chose this new venue because it had existing event infrastructure, Ms. Orlando said the museum is “very grateful for the Greenport Yacht and Shipbuilding Company,” which has hosted the event for decades and may host it again.

The Maritime Festival is the museum’s biggest fundraiser for its programming, and for the upkeep of the museum, which is open year-round in the village’s historic train station, and the Bug Light lighthouse, which it owns and maintains.

That programming includes a new eight-week-long summer Marine Exploration Program for ages 7-11, which introduces kids to marine biology, navigation, knot-tying and other nautical skills.

“We have two energetic young teachers, and every week it’s a different subject,” said Ms. Orlando, who added that the museum is able to offer scholarships to seven students in local schools. “We’ve had interest and are looking into an adult Marine Exploration Program.”

Sharing these traditions, across the generations, is what it’s all about.

“Maritime Festival is about tradition, and seeing some of our youngest citizens returning with their children and saying ‘I’m so glad you’re still doing that’ of some of our traditional events like Captain Kidd’s Treasure’ is an indication that we’re getting it right,” she added. “We work really hard to get it right.”

Here’s the full schedule of the weekend’s events.   —BHY

Beth Young

Beth Young built her first boat out of driftwood tied together with phragmites behind her family’s apartment above the old Mill Creek Inn in Southold. Nowadays, she spends most of her time kayaking, learning about shellfish, writing newspaper stories, trying to sail a Sunfish, and watching the way the bay changes from day to day. You can send her a message at

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