ESCANABA - The 2nd annual Bays de Noc Maritime Festival is quickly approaching with events planned for the entire family, according to organizers.
Maria Maniaci is one of the event's organizers and said the entire event is free to the public and that there will be a wide array of activities for all. This year's Maritime Festival will take place July 13 at the Escanaba Marina from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
"This is a prelude to next summer's big celebration of Escanaba's 150th anniversary of being a city," said Maniaci, adding that the city's maritime history is important since 150 years ago people could not easily get to Escanaba without coming here by water.
The Mobile Bay sits at the Escanaba Municipal Dock
during the 2011 Bays de Noc Maritime Festival. This year’s event will feature sail-a-ways aboard the schooner Friends Good Will, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife lamprey exhibit, teaching tours aboard the Inland Seas, entertainment and other activities. (Daily Press file photo)
This year's event will feature sail-a-ways into Little Bay de Noc aboard the schooner Friends Good Will.
Maniaci said the schooner is a faithful recreation of a merchant vessel built in 1810 that was used to haul materials throughout the Great Lakes. The original vessel was captured by the British at Fort Mackinac during the beginning of the War of 1812. The Friends Good Will will be available for sail-aways for two days.
"The festival is only Friday the 13th, but the vessel chose to give us two days," said Maniaci.
To guarantee a spot on the schooner for day sailing, reservations are being taken by Mollie Larson at the Bonifas Arts Center by calling 786-3833. It costs $35 per person to ride and participants must be at least 5 years old.
Maniaci said there originally had been spaces available for the $50 evening sailing on Friday and Saturday night, featuring wine, cheese and chocolate, but those have since sold out. The only way to get on the sold-out night sailing now is to purchase raffle tickets, which are now available for $1 at the Bonifas Arts Center, Richardson Jewelers, or Frigate Books.
In addition to two tickets on the evening sunset sail, two sterling silver pendants, and two tickets for the day sail will also be raffled off. The raffle drawing will take place July 6.
Maniaci said the raffle allows them to raise money to keep the Maritime Festival free to the public.
"The only thing they have to pay for is their food and for the sailing," she said. "We want it to be free for more people to come and enjoy it and see Escanaba's history."
This year's Maritime Festival will also include a U.S. Fish and Wildlife lamprey exhibit.
"Also, the historian from Whitefish Point Shipwreck Museum will be joining us," said Maniaci. "He will have all sorts of information and background on shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, and especially, the Edmund Fitzgerald."
There will also be some kite-flying demonstrations and activities - such as bounce houses - for kids, and the Sand Point Lighthouse and Museum will be open free to the public.
"There's a lot of people who travel the Great Lakes just to see the lighthouses, and we have a unique one right here in our backyard," said Maniaci.
Food will also be available from vendors and U.P. artisans will display and sell their crafts and wares. Delta County Search and Rescue Team and Dive Team will also be on hand with information and some possible demonstrations.
The Maritime Festival also will include afternoon teaching tours aboard the moored ship Inland Seas, and entertainment - featuring Tom Kastle and musical group Ski - will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Teamsters Union will also have a semi trailer on display featuring its history.
The festival will conclude with the Venetian Nights Parade at 9 p.m. Local boaters can dress up their boats with lights and parade out into the bay past the municipal dock and return to the harbor.