Gloucester Schooner Festival Celebrates 33rd Anniversary

This year’s promotional artwork generously donated by John Caggiano of Rockport

The Schooners return to Gloucester on September 1, 2, and 3, to celebrate the thirty-third Gloucester Schooner Festival. Maritime Gloucester will welcome twenty-three schooners to its recently rebuilt Harriet Webster Pier.

This year’s fleet includes the beautifully maintained Essex-built schooners Lettie G. Howard, launched in 1893, sailing from South Street Seaport in New York City, Gloucester’s flagship Schooner Adventure, built in 1926, joined by her sister Schooner Roseway, from 1925, owned by World Ocean School. Other large schooners include Rockland, Maine’s Schooner American Eagle, originally a Gloucester dragger, and Liberty Clipper, part of the Liberty fleet from Boston. The Schooner Columbia, a 2014 steel replica of the 1923 Essex Schooner Columbia, and based in Panama City, Florida, will return to Gloucester for a third year. She is a stunning example of the link between the schooners of old and the sustainable design of the iconic fishing schooner rig, the emblem of Gloucester. The original Columbia was a Starling Burgess design, built at the historic A.D. Story shipyard of Essex, Massachusetts in 1923, as a fishing schooner, as well as a swift competitor against Nova Scotia’s Bluenose.

Twenty-three schooners are expected, ranging in size from the Lewis H. Story at 30 feet on deck to the majestic Columbia at 175’ sparred length. Of the seven Essex schooners, three were built before 1927, and four were built by 11th generation shipbuilder Harold Burnham since 1997.

The weekend offers a wide range of sights and sounds. On Saturday, September 2, Maritime Heritage Day takes place from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm on Harbor Loop and under the First Ipswich Tent located in front of Maritime Gloucester, and on down to the waterfront. There will be vendors, food, music, and activities for the entire family. Area environmental groups and maritime heritage organizations will be set up with interactive exhibits alongside of local crafters demonstrating their art. Several of the historic Essex Schooners at the pier will be offering sailing trips, and others may be offering deck tours. Admission to Maritime Gloucester’s galleries and Sea Pocket Aquarium will be free this day. Toe tapping tunes from Old Cold Tater and Down-Home Swing will soar over the scene all afternoon. In the evening folks can enjoy a Lobster Bake at the Gloucester House, a lighted boat parade in the Harbor, and Fireworks over Stage Fort Park to end the day. Sunday morning offers the spectacular Parade of Schooners at Stacy Boulevard, starting at 10:00 AM with small boat demonstrations. The 1 PM race on Sunday features the Mayor’s Race for the Esperanto Cup and the Columbia Trophy, for the large schooners, and the Ned Cameron and Betty Ramsey Trophies for the medium and small schooners.

This year the Gloucester Schooner Festival was pleased to award a scholarship of $1000 to Corryn Ulrich, a 2017 Gloucester High School graduate, to assist with her tuition at Mass Maritime Academy. The goal of helping the future leaders of Cape Ann pursue a career in maritime-related endeavors was realized through the generosity of the Gerondelis Foundation, made possible by festival committee member Russ Smith.

The Gloucester Schooner Festival is possible due to the generosity of our sponsors, including our lead sponsors First Ipswich Bank, the City of Gloucester, and Market Basket. For a full list of sponsors, schedule of weekend events, and more, go to or like us on Facebook. The Festival raises much needed funds from the community by offering a Schooner Festival raffle in addition to corporate support. Raffle tickets are available at Maritime Gloucester or from committee members. These funds directly support our efforts to put kids on the water.

About Maritime Gloucester

Maritime Gloucester is a 501(c) (3) non-profit institution whose mission is to inspire students and visitors to value marine science, maritime heritage and environmental stewardship through hands-on education and experiences. Its one-acre campus is located on Gloucester Harbor at 23 Harbor Loop, adjacent to the Coast Guard Station. For more information, go to or like us on Facebook.