Annapolis celebrates

May 04, 2006|By MICHAEL BARNETT | MICHAEL BARNETT,SUN REPORTER

Annapolis has a lot to be proud of. For starters, it is home to the U.S. Naval Academy. And to celebrate the city's aquatic significance, Annapolis will be hosting its fifth annual Maritime Heritage Festival, which sets sail today. The citywide events will include educational and environmental exhibits, singers and storytellers as well as historic, classic and antique boats.

The showstopper of this year's celebration is the Volvo Ocean Race boats, which will sail into Annapolis' City Dock, adjacent to the Naval Academy, today at 5 p.m., coming from Baltimore. This yacht race around the world is held every four years. The boats will be in town until Sunday morning, when they depart for New York on the sixth leg of the race, which will conclude in Sweden.

"Boats are going to take people out; the water taxis are doing extra duty. The festival is set up to embrace the race when it comes to town every four years. The stopover coincides nicely with the festival," said Susan Steckman, director of communications for the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau. Free shuttles will take attendees into Annapolis from the parking lot at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium on Rowe Boulevard at Taylor Avenue.

And what's a party without a little music? To help salute the sailors, Joanna Cotten, a country and Delta blues singer, will perform tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the Eastport Yacht Club, 317 First St., which Steckman anticipates will draw a crowd of about 6,000. Other musical highlights include maritime musicians Them Eastport Oyster Boys, as well as Matt McConville, Dean Rosenthal, NonFiction, Bens Bones, Naked Blue and the Remnants. The music ends at 11 p.m.; tickets are $25. Other musical events will be going on outdoors throughout the weekend, including a performance by the United States Naval Academy Band and local talent Stereopool.

The master of ceremonies this year is renowned Annapolis sailor Gary Jobson. In addition to welcoming the crews of the Ocean Race boats to town, Jobson will host a "Meet the Skippers" forum at Ericsson stage Sunday at 10 a.m. Sailing aficionados can learn tactics and tips.

On Saturday at 9 a.m., high school students will race in the Gary Jobson Cup Interscholastic Regatta. The students, who are not required to have any prior sailing experience, can sail these two-person crafts.

Some sailing fans will take their love for the sea one step further Saturday when two-person teams will compete to build their own boat in the Sikaflex Challenge at noon. An entrance fee of $50 per team lands contestants wood and a caulk gun, but they must provide their own hand tools; some limitations apply to the equipment allowed. The boats will be built with no nails or screws, instead being entirely knit together with cable ties. Participants will then test their boats in a sea trial at 2:30 p.m.

Whenever there are boats, there are bound to be pirates. This year, the Annapolis Bookstore will present a Best Dressed Pirate Contest, the winner of which will be awarded two tickets to the Pirate's Den Gala aboard the Harbor Queen on Saturday night. The bookstore will also host the Great Annapolis Treasure Hunt Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Teams of two, which can register for $88, will follow clues throughout Eastport and Annapolis in an attempt to uncover a buried treasure box. The team that finds it and returns it to the bookstore will win a three-night stay for six at an undisclosed Chesapeake location aboard a luxury boat.

Admission to the festival is free. Price for specific events varies. For the complete schedule of events, as well as a list of venue addresses, visit mdmhf.org.

mike.barnett@baltsun.com

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