If you are anywhere near the Southcoast of Massachusetts, or more specifically New Bedford, you will not want to miss the 2009 Working Waterfront Festival. This year’s theme is Surf & Turf: Fishermen and Farmers Finding Common Ground. From the website:
Farming, like fishing, is a way of life. Fishermen and farmers share a deep knowledge of, reverence for and dependence upon the natural world. Both groups pass traditional skills and knowledge from one generation to the next, often incorporating new technologies alongside traditional practices. And both communities face many of the same economic, environmental and political challenges.
There are all kinds of wonderful activities for the entire family that will entertain and educate you about what takes place everyday on one America’s most active waterfronts. Here are the schedules for Saturday and Sunday as well as a downloadable festival map(PDF). It’s all FREE!
Here are a few videos from past festivals of the types of activities that you’ll experience:
YouTube – Scallop Shucking
YouTube – Coast Guard Rescue Demonstration
In addition to all of the activities on the waterfront, New Bedford is like a theme park for maritime heritage/culture fans. Located on Johnny Cake Hill is the Whaling Museum (website / blog / twitter), homeport of the largest ship model in the world and which has two “not to miss” exhibits: From Pursuit to Preservation and Working Waterfront, Photographic Portraits which I’m proud to say is a great show of my cousin Phil’s photography. Across the street from the Whaling Museum is the historic Seamen’s Bethel made famous by Herman Melville in his classic Moby-Dick. A little further up the hill you’ll find the new Ocean Explorium which is the home to one of NOAA’s very impressive Science on a Sphere installations. All of this and more is located in the New Bedford Whaling Historical National Park.
Looking for some great food and refreshments? Check out the Rose Alley Ale House for great chicken wings, burgers and a wide selection of beers and No Problemo for the best Mexican around. Want something a little fancier, Cork or Waterfront Grill would be god choices. All are steps from the festival grounds.
If you are on Twitter and interested in learning more or if you attend and want to share your experiences use the hash tag #workingwaterfront.
Sea-Fever Consulting LLC recently launched a new unit called seaz media which focuses on helping maritime and nonprofit organizations use social media to advance their missions.
One of our first projects was to create a web presence for the New Bedford Port Society, a small nonprofit organization that has been serving mariners and the local community continuously for nearly 180 years. The Port Society owns and maintains two of the most significant buildings in our nation’s rich maritime heritage: The Seamen’s Bethel and The Mariner’s Home.
To learn more about this project, check out the seaz me blog and visit the Port Society website.
My local and one of my favorite maritime museums, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, has recently launched a new blog which you should check out. You’ll find lots of great behind the scenes information including a post titled The Birth of an Exhibit: “Classic Whaling Prints” about an exhibit that opens tomorrow.
“Classic Whaling Prints” opens at the Whaling Museum on February 27, 2009, and runs through the end of the year. The exhibition, organized and written by Dr. Stuart M. Frank, traces the most important and most influential pictorial images of whaling through four centuries, from one highlight to the next. It also runs some of their origins to ground by showing, along with the prints themselves, the original oil paintings, watercolors, and drawings on which the prints are based, and some of the decorative arts, ceramics, and scrimshaw that, in turn, are based on the prints.
First and foremost, if you can get to the Whaling Museum, do so it’s one of America’s most important maritime cultural institutions. If you can’t, make sure you visit their blog regularly because it’s an exciting new digital initiative that appears to be charting a proper course.
New Bedford Standard Times article (Feb. 26, 2009) Whaling Museum opens print exhibit
Bill Kauffman reviews Down at the Docks a new book by Rory Nugent about life on the New Bedford waterfront. (That Sinking Feeling – The last of the independent fishermen – and their troubles. – free content)
I haven’t read the book yet but plan on picking up a copy ASAP. Regular Sea-Fever readers know that New Bedford is my homeport so I’ll be really interested to read Nugent’s take on things. From Kauffman’s review:
Mr. Nugent decries the regimentation of “ill-mannered watermen” who once did business by handshake and lived by codes that an outsider might appreciate but could never really understand. He and his dockmates prefer the yesterdays when “every fisherman was an independent cuss working alongside an independent cuss who happened to own a boat. It worked damn good for a hundred years.” Another of Mr. Nugent’s characters, the superannuated mob fixer Pink, worries that small-scale commercial fishing is going the way of whaling and that soon, in Mr. Nugent’s typically pungent paraphrase, “the docks will turn into some sort of Sturbridge Village by the Sea, sanitized and saltless, with college boys pretending to be deckhands and former pencil pushers posing as captains.”
If this is any indication it should be an interesting read.
“In this same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman’s Chapel, and few are the moody fishermen, shortly bound for the Indian Ocean or Pacific, who fail to make a Sunday visit to the spot.” – Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville 1851
Yesterday my cousin Phil was elected president of the New Bedford Port Society at the Annual General Meeting. He’s a good guy who will bring some new energy to this 179 year old organization. I was also accepted as a member and look forward to helping any way I can.
The New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park website:
During the years 1828 – 1829 when the whaling industry of New Bedford was at its height, a number of the city’s leading citizens gave their deep consideration to the “character building” of nearly five thousand seamen employed out of this port. Accordingly, on June 2, 1830 they organized under the title of the New Bedford Port Society, for the moral improvement of seamen and later became incorporated under the following act: An Act To Incorporate The New Bedford Port Society For The Moral Improvement Of Seamen.
Across the street from the great New Bedford Whaling Museum, the New Bedford Port Society is responsible for 2 very important historic buildings located in the heart of the National Park: Seamen’s Bethel and The Mariner’s Home.
Continue reading New Bedford Port Society – Helping Mariners and Preserving Our History
Last Sunday we dragged the kids out to go to gallery hopping in New Bedford, MA. Yup, that’s right, I said New Bedford. Believe it or not there’s a vibrant art community mostly hidden away in the vast old mill buildings that are scattered around the city. Each year in the early fall there is an open studio weekend where you can go see and buy art and meet artists. Luckily Luke and Joy fancy themselves as mini-Matisses so this adventure is not too tough a sell.
One of the most amazing shows was by Huguette Despault May who does these very large charcoal drawings of ropes. The above photo will give you some sense of the scale of these works. From the artist’s website about her Hawser Series (2007):
This series began with the chance discovery of an abandoned ship’s hawser* line languishing in an old cart at the Ropeworks building in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The rope’s heft and tattered state immediately suggested an exciting series of drawing investigations. Having viewed my earlier rope drawings, its owner – who happened to be the last of the Ropeworks master rope makers – offered to let me keep my new found treasure. Each drawing in the Hawser Series derives from that single piece of rope.
Despault May’s amazing work can be viewed at her website but due to it’s awesome scale, it’s best viewed in person.