As it has for the past 62 years, Deal Island will host a skipjack race on Labor Day Monday in Tangier Sound.
A slew of other family-friendly activities are planned throughout the festival weekend.
The Deal Island-Chance Lions Club and Skipjack Heritage work together to host the Deal Island Skipjack Race and Festival. Festival committee members hope to attract locals and visitors to Deal Island.
The race features skipjacks, which were designated as the Maryland State Boat in 1985. Several of the skipjacks participating in 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’s event also features the Working Watermen’s Boat Docking Contest, sponsored by Scott’s Cove Marina and Tohatsu Motors. Three-person boat docking teams will compete for $10,000 in prize money.
The 1st Place winner will take home a $6,000 prize, the largest purse on record for this event. The contest attracts contestants from Deal Island, Wenona, Crisfield, Rumbley, Smith Island, Tangier Island, Hooper’s Island, Solomon’s Island and other Chesapeake Bay communities.
In keeping with tradition, 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 ten 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 Skipjack Heritage Museum, located in Chance.
The Skipjack Heritage Museum will be open Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Sunday from noon until 4 p.m., and Monday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are being accepted to help restore the skipjack “City of Crisfield.”
On Monday, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., additional parking will be available at Deal Island School with shuttle service to the harbor provided.