Despite threatening skies —Â and actual pouring rain —Â Sag Harbor’s annual celebration of its maritime history attracted crowds to sample food, compete in contests and listen to some of the seafaring music that accompanied its earliest inhabitants out to sea.
The eighteenth edition of the Sag HarborFest started Friday evening with a sold out crowd jammed under a tent protecting them from teeming rain. The downpour didn’t stop Caroline Doctorow from entertaining a couple hundred Sag Harborites who feasted on lobster, clams, mussels, wine and cold drinks at the benefit for the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum.
The weekend ended with a concert at the historic First Presbyterian “Old Whalers” Church by jazz legend Hal McKusick. In between were a farmers market, a gala parade that featured marching bands, local floats and a cadre of motorcyclists dressed in wedding gowns chomping on fat cigars, and contests and competitions.
Saturday offered the first rounds of the annual whaleboat races for the coveted Whalers Cup. The semi-finals on Sunday saw teams from The Corner Bar, Sag Harbor Liquors and Bridgehampton Equipment Repair advance into the championship round in the women’s division, and Team Whalers, The Corner Bar and John K. Ott advance in the men’s division.
In the finals, Bridgehampton Equipment Repair, with Marianne Ward, Jackie Walsh, Becky Gyer and Robin Helgerson on the team, coming from behind to win after Sag Harbor Liquors and The Corner tangled oars and stalled about 100 feet from the beach. In the men’s final, defending champions Team Whalers, with Ray Pettigrew, Bill Martin, Sean Beyel and Shannon Tice on board, rowed to a decisive win after leading throughout the race.
New this year was a cup race for East End firefighters. The championship four-boat race saw Sag Harbor Gazelle Hose Company, with Robert Bori, Howard North, Michael D’Angelo and Kelly Bailey in the boat, defeat East Hampton Company 1, Sag Harbor Montauk Hose Company and Sag Harbor Murray Hill Company for the cup.
Also new this year was a pair of running races on Sunday morning to benefit the Pierson High School Cross Country Team. In the first annual HarborFest 5K, Tara Farrell took top honors, and in the one mile run, Andrew Mitchell was the winner.
Food also featured in the competition this year, and dozens flocked to the Long Wharf Sunday to sample and judge batches of clam chowder offered from local kitchens. Winning in the New England division was the Ross School and Cromer’s Market in the Manhattan division.
Clams also featured in the annual challenge to determine shucker of the year. Women dominated the field this year, and the contest was tied with Monica Miller and Denise O’Malley sharing honors.
Main Street merchants also competed this year —Â to see who had the best window displays. The Sag Harbor LVIS sponsored the contest and awarded certificates to the Sag Harbor Variety Store for Most Humorous, Beach Bungalow for Best Whaling Theme, Romany Kramoris Gallery for Most Colorful, The Wharf Shop for Most Historic, Country Lane for Best Overall Design and the Sag Harbor Liquor Store for Sag Harbor Pride. Honorable mentions went to Rocco’s Gallery and Lee’s Jewelers.Â