Working Waterfront Festival returns to New Bedford Sept. 23

NEW BEDFORD, MA – The Working Waterfront Festival – a free, family friendly celebration of the commercial fishing industry – returns to the working piers of New Bedford on Sept. 23 for a fun-filled and educational one-day event.

The Working Waterfront Festival provides a unique opportunity for the public to get a firsthand look at the culture of fishing, and for the commercial fishing industry to tell its own story.

This year, the festival is partnering with the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center.

Located in the heart of the city’s historic downtown, the center’s mission is to tell the story of the commercial fishing industry past, present, and future through exhibits, programs, and archives.

The festival will be presented in two locations: on Steamship Pier and at the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center.  The two sites will be linked by a free shuttle bus, allowing visitors to enjoy all the festival has to offer.

Steamship Pier will host the contest stage where industry members will face off.  Demonstrations of industry skills and fisheries science research will be presented on the pier by SMAST and GMRI.  And attendees will find dockside vessel tours, kids’ activities, a tug boat muster, whaleboat races, corporate and non-profit exhibitors, maritime artisans, a food court featuring local seafood, and cooking demonstrations at the foodways area, all on the pier.

The Fishing Heritage Center will host performances of music and fisherpoetry on Main Stage Mug Up sessions; author readings and signings; kids activities; and the exhibit, Nautical Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them: Portraits by Phil Mello (see related story page 30).

Visitors will also be able to visit the center’s gift shop and main exhibit, “From Boat to Table,” featuring a full-sized wheelhouse and a variety of hands-on activity stations.

As always, the festival will bring together a unique array of music, storytelling, and fisherpoetry.  Many of the performers have close ties to the industry and reflect its ethnic diversity.

Performances of traditional sea chanteys by the New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus, and the edgier punk rock sea chantey sounds of Sharks Come Cruisin’, will have the audience singing and dancing along.

Portuguese Fado singer Ana Vinagre and her ensemble will share the soulful songs of love, the ocean, and loss.  NOIR brings the music of Norway and Ireland to the festival stages.  Singer/songwriter Jon Campbell will sing his original maritime songs about the lives of those living and working on the coast.  Fisherpoet and commercial fisherman Dave Densmore will share his poetry, written by him to capture a way of life that is changing and give voice to those who work the sea.

Commercial fisherman and author Linda Greenlaw will return to the festival for a Q&A session with Mindy Todd of WCAI, the Cape & Islands NPR station.  She will talk about her writing and her newest book, Shiver Hitch, which was released in June.  A book signing will follow.

Finest Kind: The New Bedford Fishing Industry is the new, original documentary produced by the center.  The film interweaves interviews, historic and contemporary footage, and photographs to provide a sense of the rich history and culture of the New Bedford/Fairhaven fishing industry.  This 20-minute film will be shown throughout the day at the center.

Parking is free at all meters and at the Elm Street Garage.

For more information, visit <>.

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