Harborfest celebrates its 40th year along the Elizabeth

Harborfest celebrates its 40th year along the Elizabeth

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Large tanks allow visiting mermaids to participate in the annual Norfolk Harborfest at Town Point Park. Photo: The Real Mermaid LLC

There’s no shortage of things to do June 9-12 along the water in Norfolk. That’s when the largest, longest-running, free maritime festival in the country, Norfolk Harborfest, returns for its 40th year. The festival’s four days of activities and attractions include a massive Parade of Sail on Friday with tall ships, character vessels, power cruisers, sailing craft, antique and classic wooden boats, military vessels, tugs, and more.

The parade draws thousands of onlookers stationed at vantage points along the Elizabeth River as the fleet travels down the river toward Town Point Park. Public tours of the ships begin at noon on Saturday and Sunday and conclude at sunset. Other festival attractions include fireworks, musical entertainment, mermaids, Fly Board propulsion, tugboat contest, workboat race, build-a-boat challenge, wine and craft beer garden, boardwalk arcade, and the acrobats of The Red Trouser Show.

Visiting mariners can dock alongside the park promenade for easy access to the festivities. Advance registration is highly recommended. Transient docking is also available at the nearby Waterside Marina.

Later in the month the park will host the 27th annual Bayou Boogaloo and Cajun Food Festival June 24-26. More than 8,000 pounds of live crawfish straight from Louisiana will be boiled up with sausage, corn and potatoes throughout the weekend. Jambalaya, file gumbo, crawfish and shrimp etouffee, po’ boy sandwiches, alligator sausage, Cajun boudin, beignets, and fresh Louisiana Gulf oysters will also be ready to devour or nibble, however y’all please. festevents.org

Fishing on the Banks

It’s peak season for visitors on North Carolina’s Outer Banks and also prime time for inshore and offshore fishing. With blue marlin, white marlin, mahi-mahi, wahoo, cobia, king mackerel, bluefish, tuna, flounder, crabs, shrimp, and croaker roaming the waters, something’s bound to bite. All you need is the right bait, spot, equipment, and a little luck.

A small to mid-size boat will get you to where frying-pan fish are found. If you want to increase your chances, inshore fishing charters are available to fish the sounds, inlets or near-shore waters using light tackle or fly fishing gear. Large yachts and big-game memories can be found through the charter-fishing folks, most notably at Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Island. Split the cost between six anglers and a $1,500 to $1,700 charter becomes reasonable and logical considering all the tackle, fuel and know-how that’s necessary for a successful Gulf Stream fishing expedition. If you want to give it a go yourself, the staff at Frisco Rod and Gun has useful advice and everything you’ll need. obxguides.com/charter-fishing

Opry Thursdays

Coastal breezes and eclectic twang will fill the air at the OBX Island Opry Show at Roanoke Island Festival Island Park on Thursday, July 7. Island Opry music events at the park’s amphitheater are held the first Thursday in June, July, and August. July’s lineup features Emily West, Love Cannon, Malpass Brothers, Boot Rooster, and Jonny Waters & Company. Docking is available for yachts up to 150 feet at the nearby Manteo Waterfront Marina. Manteo also offers free overnight tie-up with no services on a space-available basis, or you can anchor in good holding between the Waterfront Gazebo and Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse and take your dinghy to the dock. islandopry.com

By Christopher Knauss , Southern Boating Magazine June 2016