As for the past 61 years, 2021 will feature a skipjack race on Labor Day just off the shores of Deal Island.
A slew of other family-friendly activities are planned throughout the festival weekend, too. Two local organizations, the Deal Island-Chance Lions Club and Skipjack Heritage, Inc., work together to host the Deal Island Skipjack Race and Festival. Festival committee members hope to attract locals and visitors to Deal Island.
This is the 62nd year for the race, which features skipjacks, designated as the Maryland State Boat, in 1985. Several of the skipjacks participating the race are registered National Historic Landmarks, and are over 100 years old. The Chesapeake sailboats were originally designed to harvest oysters. Once in the hundreds, some say thousands, fewer than 20 continue to work on the water today.
The Skipjack Race and Festival offers a chance to view the largest congregation of the remaining fleet and to celebrate authentic Chesapeake heritage. Local artisans offer festival-goers a chance to purchase unique, handmade crafts and art. Food vendors serve up delicious local seafood and traditional festival fare. The blessing of the fleet, local parade, live music, silent auction, and exhibits round out the weekend.
This year also offers a return to traditional boat docking. The Working Watermen’s Boat Docking Contest, sponsored by Scott’s Cove Marina, will provide an opportunity for three-person boat docking teams to compete for $10,000 in prize money. The first place winner will take home a $6,000 prize. This is the largest purse on record for this event. The committee hopes to attract contestants from Deal Island, Wenona, Crisfield, Rumbley, Smith Island, Tangier Island, Hooper’s Island, Solomon’s Island and other Chesapeake Bay communities.
A key requirement this year, contestants must be licensed commercial watermen, in a licensed commercial vessel designed to harvest crabs, oysters and other seafood. Boats will be docked by a team of three, including the captain and two mates. Teams will first participate in a practice run and a qualifying run. The top 10 qualifying teams will work together to dock their vessel, with the captain at the head and two mates in position to tie the lines.
Pre-registration is required by calling (443) 397-6625.
On route to the festival, people are encouraged to visit the many local yard sales that pop up along Deal Island Road each year, throughout the weekend, and to visit the new Skipjack Heritage Museum, located in Chance.
Deal Island Skipjack Race and Festival committee members are looking for additional sponsors, volunteers, vendors, parade entries and more. For more information, follow Deal Island-Chance Lions Club and Skipjack Heritage, Inc. on Facebook or visit the website. Questions? Contact Sandie Marriner at firstname.lastname@example.org.