Gloucester Schooner Festival Prepares for Another Great Weekend

Schooner Bald Eagle from Gloucester

Schooner Bald Eagle from Gloucester

There are three key story lines for this year’s 32nd annual Gloucester Schooner Festival, which runs from September 2 to September 4, 2016.

First, the Schooner Columbia, last year’s winner, returns to the Festival to defend its title. The original Columbia was a 141’ classic Gloucester Fishing Schooner built at the historic A.D. Story shipyard of Essex, Massachusetts in 1923. The replica Columbia was built by Brian D’Isernia at his boat yard, Eastern Shipbuilding Group, in Panama City, Florida. “It is great to have her here in Gloucester,” says Schooner Committee Chair Daisy Nell, “and her captain Karl Joyner raced her to victory. What a tribute to the old Essex schooners to have this modern recreation join us.”

Second, Gloucester’s flagship schooner Adventure celebrates its 90th birthday this year. Built in Essex at the Story Shipyard in 1926, she is celebrating with a busy summer including welcoming thousands across her deck during the Festival weekend.

Third, this year’s Festival is dedicated to a great friend of the festival and to Cape Ann, Kay Ellis, who passed away earlier this year. Kay, with her husband Tom built the Schooner Thomas A. Lannon in Essex in 1997, and brought her to Gloucester Harbor to offer public sails and charters. Kay’s warm personality, business acumen, and commitment to promoting maritime heritage on Cape Ann are sorely missed. Their son Capt. Heath Ellis continues to operate the Lannon and will, once again, participate in this year’s races.

Despite the changes on the waterfront this year – Maritime Gloucester’s docks are being torn down in August  — nearly twenty schooners have signaled their interest in returning to Gloucester to participate in the weekend.  Maritime Heritage Day takes place Saturday, September 3rd from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. This year Heritage Day will take place on Harbor Loop and under the First Ipswich Tent located in front of Maritime Gloucester. Maritime heritage organizations and area environmental groups and will be set up with interactive exhibits along with local crafters demonstrating their art. Music will be provided during the afternoon and lunch will be available on the pier. This is a great and fun event for families and visitors to Gloucester Schooner Festival weekend. Admission to the Museum will be free this day, and deck tours will be available on some boats, such as the Schooner Adventure, which will be berthed at the State Fish Pier.  The event is followed by a Lobster Bake at the Gloucester House and Fireworks over Gloucester.

The race on Sunday includes the Esperanto Cup, the Mayor’s Award, Ned Cameron Trophy and the Betty Ramsey Trophy.

Lead sponsors of the Festival include: First Ipswich Bank, the City of Gloucester, Market Basket and Institution for Savings. For a full list of sponsors, go to the website. The Festival raises much needed funds from the community by offering Schooner Festival raffle in addition to corporate support. Please purchase raffle tickets (available at Maritime Gloucester) or during Maritime Heritage Day. These funds directly support our efforts to put kids on the water.

Maritime Gloucester is a 501(c) (3) non-profit institution whose mission is to inspire students and visitors to value marine science, maritime heritage and environmental stewardship through hands-on education and experiences. Its one-acre campus is located on Gloucester Harbor at 23 Harbor Loop, adjacent to the Coast Guard Station. For more information go to or like us on Facebook.