Gloucester Schooner Festival 2020 Cancelled


CONTACT: Michael De Koster
PHONE: 617-233-7016


Treasured Annual Festival Yields to Pandemic

GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS (JULY 7, 2020)  – The 36th Annual Gloucester Schooner Festival Committee has cancelled the annual Labor Day festival for 2020. 

The Gloucester Schooner Festival is a signature celebration and one of Cape Ann’s most beloved cultural events. This gathering of schooners, hosted by Maritime Gloucester, is made possible by the volunteer efforts of over 30 people and local organizations who serve as committee members, as well as the many sponsors and donors who fund the event. When the effects of the pandemic started to close things down in March, Maritime Gloucester and the Festival Committee held out hope that there would be a window of opportunity by Labor Day.

“Despite the months of good planning and creating alternative options, the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the immediate realities of the data have given us no other responsible choice but to cancel this year’s Festival,” says Festival Chairperson, Daisy Nell Collinson, “We do not know where the actual numbers for Massachusetts will be by Labor Day, but everything we have seen from this virus so far shows us it would be reckless from a community health perspective to continue. As well as for the volunteers, schooner captains, and crews.”

Festival organizers point to the current rising numbers in states that have allowed large gatherings as a large factor in making this decision.  “Each week, new information comes out that shows us we still do not know everything about the dangers of this virus,” Daisy Nell noted. “There was an immense push to plan alternative options and ‘wait it out’ hoping the data would allow it. But as we watched other states open to large gatherings and saw their numbers rise, our sense of caution shifted to action. Thinking it would be different here was something we eventually just could not justify.”

The Gloucester Schooner Festival is one of the largest events in the region.  Organizers had hoped that the outdoor nature of the Festival, good planning on crowd control, and removing some events that promote large gatherings would allow them to still hold a version of the Festival this year.

“No one is more disappointed than Maritime Gloucester, the Committee, and the Schooners to not be able to offer the Festival this year,” states Michael De Koster, Executive Director of Maritime Gloucester. “While it is a difficult decision to make, we all know that this is the right call and needs to be done sooner rather than later. For the sake of our volunteers, organizers, sponsors, visiting schooners, and city officials, the time to cancel has to be now.”

This year’s Festival would have commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the International Fisherman’s Cup race. “Maritime Gloucester had planned a summer-long series of exhibits, visiting vessels, and programs that would have culminating in one of the best Schooner Festivals to ever grace Cape Ann,” added De Koster. “But the pandemic has changed those plans. We need to make sacrifices and smart decisions now so that we all can return to school, work, and promote the general health of our community.”

According to Daisy Nell Collinson, “The Gloucester Schooner Festival is about our community and getting as many people aboard these magnificent vessels as possible. As more and more Schooners are faced with financial concerns to come and the safety of their crew when they are in port, the unique spirit of the event started to disappear.  All of the Schooners come at their own expense and we could not guarantee the festival would not be cancelled when they got here.”

Maritime Gloucester is looking forward. The 37th Annual Festival planning has started.  “Without the revenues and sponsorships from this year’s events, we will need to work twice as hard to raise funds for next year’s celebration,” states De Koster. “Although we are cancelling our event, we cannot cancel the cultural importance and love of this Festival throughout the community.” Maritime Gloucester plans to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the International Fisherman’s Cup race by repackaging cancelled exhibits and programs into a series of events, virtual programs, and lectures throughout the coming year, leading up to a great 101st Anniversary and 37th Annual Festival in 2021.

2019 Schooner Festival Raffle Winners

Set of books/CDs by Daisy Nell: Howard Frisch
$25 Gift Certificate from Russell Orchards: Lin Ellis
$50 Gift Certificate from Turtle Alley: Alex Thomas
$50 Gift Certificate from Turner’s Classic Seafood: Pat Slade
$50 Gift Certificate from Woodman’s of Essex: Lillian Welcome
Framed Print from Katherine Richmond: Beth Chianciola
Ryan & Wood Distilleries Gift Basket: Rosemary Quinato
2 Tickets aboard the Thomas Lannon: Pat Thorpe
$100 Gift Certificate from Maplewood Car Wash: Mary Claire Dalzell
Thomas Hoyne print donated by Jim Lowell: John Neilson
$200 Gift Certificate to Harborview Inn: Brad Pianco
Grand Prize: Schooner Roseway Giclee Print by John Caggiano: Scott Munroe

Beauport Hospitality Group major new sponsor of the 2018 Gloucester Schooner Festival

Maritime Gloucester is proud to announce an exciting one-year sponsorship deal with Beauport Hospitality Group in support of its annual Gloucester Schooner Festival. This establishes Beauport Hospitality Group as the premier corporate sponsor for the event. The partnership between Maritime Gloucester and Beauport Hospitality Group will have far-reaching implications for community access at the Festival. Now in its 34th year, the Festival seeks to expand its public engagement through additional public dockside access to visiting Schooners. This significant support from The Beauport Hospitality Group will help to underwrite Maritime Gloucester’s plans to construct sets of temporary dock space for the duration of the festival. These floats are expected to provide dock space again next year and for many years to come.

The Gloucester Schooner Festival is an annual event scheduled each Labor Day Weekend. This year’s dates are Friday, August 31 to Monday, September 3, 2018. Once again, this year’s Schooner Festival will be an historic event for the Cape Ann Community, with the arrival of Nova Scotia’s recently restored Schooner Bluenose II and the breathtaking replica of the 1923 Essex-built Schooner Columbia. Along with 26 other schooners coming from Maine to Maryland, the Festival hosts tens of thousands of people for a unique and inspiring four-day event.

Whether through the award-winning marine science initiatives offered at Maritime Gloucester or the Schooner Festival’s Youth Scholarship program, the Schooner Festival’s impact is felt beyond its four-day span. A true city-wide celebration of Gloucester’s maritime heritage, the festival captivates the imagination and provides opportunity for community engagement. The Beauport Hospitality Group’s Sheree Zizik expressed particular interest in this impact on the Cape Ann Community beyond just the event. “Beauport Hospitality Group has grown on a foundation of community involvement. We cherish the City of Gloucester, her history and her devotion to the education of her children. We are proud to be a part of the Cape Ann Community, who holds on to her heritage so dearly and yet is moving forward into the future with ever-changing maritime innovation. We are proud to contribute to the Gloucester Schooner Festival and be a part of its continued growth, and to see the educational and scholarship programs develop even more.”

Being part of the community and celebrating the people of Gloucester has been the bedrock of this Festival from the start. Each year, since 1985, the Mayor of the City of Gloucester has welcomed the arrival of the schooners, a magnificent link to the story of Gloucester and the community and vessels that fueled the economy of a growing country. This year Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken will again officially welcome the schooners on Friday evening, then present the Esperanto Cup for the winner of the Mayor’s Race on Sunday, Sept. 2.

“As the mayor of America’s Oldest Seaport, I take pride in honoring our rich maritime history. It is an honor to serve such a proud and vibrant community, especially when unique collaborations bring people together. The Gloucester Schooner Festival celebrates our cultural and maritime heritage; it honors our fishermen and the sacrifices they and their families have made. The historic schooners in Gloucester Harbor for our festival will provide cultural enrichment for citizens and visitors to our wonderful city.”

The Festival is coordinated by a committee of volunteers plus the staff of Maritime Gloucester. Michael Costello, former Executive Director of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, served as the original coordinator of the festival, now chaired by local author and folklorist Daisy Nell. Finding a partner who sees the value in not only the event, but also the community engagement around the event, is a key component for Chairwoman Nell. “I am so grateful for this gift of support from the Beauport Hospitality Group. This will allow us to offer more opportunities for people to experience, up-close, a variety of schooners. They can see why these authentic vessels still matter in today’s world. We want to show our young people that we have a meaningful touchstone to history, in a way that is thrilling and engaging.”

Michael DeKoster, Executive Director at Maritime Gloucester agrees. “The love of our collective maritime heritage and the sense of place that we celebrate resonates through the spirit of this festival. I have been an avid attendee for years, along with thousands of other locals and visitors from far and wide. A signature weekend in America’s Oldest Seaport, this is a must-see event for all. With the excellent and generous backing of our local partners, and now The Beauport Hospitality Group, festival-goers will be able to see more, do more, and engage more than ever before. It is a real pleasure to be working with partners who share our community goals.”

The City of Gloucester and many local banks, businesses, and individuals, make annual gifts of support and services, without which this festival could not take place. The Gloucester Schooner Festival wholeheartedly thanks each of its sponsors, and warmly welcomes the Beauport Hospitality Group as this year’s primary sponsor.