Working Waterfront Festival to showcase industry

NEW BEDFORD, MA – The Working Waterfront Festival will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a retrospective look at how commercial fishing and fishing communities have changed over the past decade.

Scheduled to take place Sept. 28-29 here in the number-one dollar-value port in the nation, this year’s festival will explore past themes – preservation of ports, tradition and innovation, safety at sea, and several others – plus take a look at what lies ahead.

wwf_2013-PROG_COVERThe family-friendly event is free of charge and sprawls across New Bedford’s historic waterfront, covering Fisherman’s Wharf, the State Pier, and Steamship Pier.

The now-familiar program is packed with boat tours, gear demonstrations, documentaries, fishtale telling, live music, and seafood cooking demos.

All are intended to give the public a better understanding of commercial fishing, its culture, its people, and the communities it supports, and to give fishermen and their families an opportunity to share their stories, learn something new, show off their skills, and have some fun.

This year, the festival has a 750-gallon flume tank on display, made possible through a partnership between the Center for Sustainable Aquatic Resources at Memorial University’s Marine Institute in St. John’s, Newfoundland and GEARNET, the Northeast Groundfish Gear Conservation Engineering and Demonstration Network.

The Marine Institute is home to a 450,000-gallon flume tank, the world’s largest, which hundreds of Northeast fishermen and researchers have visited to test new net designs.  Working Waterfront Festival attendees will have the chance to see how this kind of testing is done on a smaller scale in the institute’s portable demonstration tank.

Local net maker Tor Bendiksen of Reidar’s Manufacturing designed scale-model nets for use in the demo tank, and net designers, fisheries scientists, and fishermen will be on hand to answer questions.  Other model nets will be on display, including some provided by Superior Trawl, which is based in Narragansett, RI.


Contests, displays

Without question, people who visit fish piers and fishing communities like to see the tools of the trade – nets, traps, rigging, and the mechanics of it all.  There’ll be plenty of that on display at the festival.

At the Steamship Pier, the public will be able to visit “skills demonstration booths,” where fishermen will be exhibiting their net making, knot tying, rigging, wire splicing, and scallop dredge making talents, among others.

And, in one of the most exciting festival events each year, fishermen will compete against each other for cash prizes in a number of contests, further displaying the precision and techniques involved in so many daily fishing-related tasks.

The Maritime Law Offices of Latti & Anderson LLP are sponsoring both the scallop shucking and net mending contests, offering $500, $250, and $100 prizes for first, second, and third place finishes respectively in each category.  The Marlinspike Artist is offering a $100 Stop and Shop gift card to the winner of the splicing contest, and Hercules SLR (US), which is sponsoring both the safety demonstrations and survival suit races, is offering $100 gift certificates to survival suit race winners.


Seafood, tales, tugs

It goes without saying that fresh local seafood is a festival highlight.  Ample supplies of fried scallops, clam cakes, crab and lobster rolls, shrimp cocktail, oysters, little necks, and “New Bedford fish and chips” will be readily available.

And, on Sunday afternoon, two prominent chefs will compete in a “Seafood Throwdown,” vying against each other to create a winning seafood dish using a surprise local seafood ingredient.  The event is a collaboration between the festival and the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance.

The “Fishtales” story station will be back in operation on the Steamship Pier as part of the festival’s Community Documentation Project, which is collecting and archiving real life stories from fishermen and other industry members.

The Dock-U-Mentary Film Area on Pier 3 is the place to go to see classic and contemporary footage chronicling the history and workings of the commercial fishing industry and waterfront.  And, a number of authors will be reading from and signing books about fishing, seafood, boats, and related subjects.

Other festival events include:  man overboard demonstrations to show
how quickly fishermen must act to rescue crew members who have fallen into the water; music galore; tours of the fully restored wooden eastern rig Roann; tours of commercial scallop, clam, and groundfish boats; tours of a Coast Guard vessel and the 108′ Schooner Ernestina, which is the official vessel of the commonwealth of Massachusetts; miniature workboat model displays; harbor tours; whaleboat races; a tugboat muster; and much, much more.

Poignantly capping off the weekend’s festivities, the festival will host the 44th Annual Blessing of the Fleet on Sunday at 1pm.

The Working Waterfront Festival is a project of the nonprofit Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts.  Dozens of sponsors, donors, patrons, friends, and industry members have contributed significantly to make this year’s event possible.

For more information and to download the 56-page festival
program guide, visit the festival’s website at  /cfn/


Music abounds at Sept. 28-29 Working Waterfront Festival

Music lovers will be pleased to hear that Working Waterfront Festival organizers have lined up an especially impressive slate of performers for this year’s 10th anniversary festival celebration.

The range of offerings covers everything from traditional sea chanteys to songs that vividly portray the industry’s ethnic diversity.

Here are a few of the performers in the weekend’s line-up:

•  Anita Best – Traditional songs and stories from Newfoundland;

•  Calico Jack – Music and spoken words celebrating the people, places, and history of the Chesapeake;

•  Crabgrass featuring Daisy Nell – Old time music for New England contra dances, as well as traditional and original songs about the seafaring and ship building heritage of Essex, MA;

•  Sharks Come Cruisin’ – A “sea chantey punk” band from Rhode Island;

•  Joao Cerilo & Pilon Batuku – Traditional Cape Verdean Funaná and batuque music;

•  Ana Vinagre – A “local legend” who sings Portuguese fado;

• SAMspill – Traditional music from Norway;

•  Jon Campbell – A former fisherman and festival regular who sings often humorous nautically themed folk songs and leads Something Fishy, a song/poetry swap of material created and performed by fishermen;

•  Souls of the Sea – A Gloucester-based folk-rock trio; and

•  The New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus.

A completing listing of all performers and their timeslots and stages is available on the Working Waterfront Festival website at


Read the rest and much, much more in the October issue of Commercial Fisheries News. Read online

immediately and download for future reference.