Organizers: Duluth's tall ships festival to expand in 2013Next year’s tall ships festival will be bigger than the one that brought nine ships to Duluth two years ago, Visit Duluth officials said Monday.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune
Next year’s tall ships festival will be bigger than the one that brought nine ships to Duluth two years ago, Visit Duluth officials said Monday.
The event is scheduled for July 24-30, 2013. Visit Duluth is in talks with about 25 vessels to see which will commit to coming to Duluth on those dates. Duluth will not see all 25 vessels, Visit Duluth President & CEO Terry Mattson said.
“We know we’re bringing in at least 10, which is one more than we had in 2010,” Mattson said. “A lot of it comes down to how we make the jigsaw puzzle fit together. We’re working on some of the docking space considerations.”
So far, no vessels have committed to the festival, but Mattson expects that to change in the coming months, as ships work out their schedules with other Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ports.
“A lot of what happens here depends on what happens east,” Mattson said.
Several of the nine tall ships that visited Duluth in 2010 were taking part in the Great Lakes Tall Ships Challenge, racing between six cities in the U.S. and Canada. Duluth was the only Lake Superior port on the challenge that year.
Duluth is scheduled to be one of the ports for the 2013 Tall Ships Challenge, which will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the major military events of the War of 1812 that took place in the Great Lakes.
In addition to bringing more ships to Duluth in 2013 than it did in 2010, Visit Duluth also plans to give people more chances to sail aboard the ships. All three tall ships that visited Duluth last summer offered sailing opportunities.
“We sold those out in a matter of days,” Mattson said. “That allows us to be a little more versatile in the number of ships if we don’t have to have all of them tied up along the dock at the same time.”
The 2013 festival’s physical arrangement will be much the same as the 2010 festival, encompassing Duluth’s Waterfront, Bayfront Festival Park and Harbor Drive. Some ships will arrive on Wednesday, July 24, or even the day before, Mattson said.
“We’ll feature something for everyone: onboard tours, day-sails and expanded hours for dockside tours,” Visit Duluth Chairwoman Karen Pionk said. “We’ll have a full complement of vendors, artisans, music, reenactments and entertainment.”
The parade of sail is scheduled for Thursday. Dockside tours, day sails and entertainment in Bayfront Festival Park will primarily happen Friday through Sunday, although some day-sails will continue Monday and Tuesday.
“It has become so popular some people just want to know when the ships are arriving and departing,” Mattson said.
There was a time on the Lakes when the sight of several sailing ship was anything but special. In 1870, there were 2,000 sailing ships on the Great Lakes. Ports such as Chicago and Milwaukee could see 100 sailing ships arrive in a day seeking shelter when storms threatened. The Twin Ports probably saw days with 60 to 70 sails in harbor. Advancing technology, however, doomed sailing ships, with clouds of black smoke replacing billowing white sails.
A romanticized view of the age of sail and their novelty makes tall ships popular attractions. The 2010 festival drew an estimated 225,000 tall ship fans.
“We’re hoping to grow the event and make it even bigger than 2010,” Mattson said.