Port Washington, Wisconsin throws a party to recognize its rich maritime history every August. The free, three-day event enlivens the city's downtown and waterfront, where working vessels of the Great Lakes are docked for touring and the captains of other boats offer Lake Michigan harbor cruises.
The S/V Denis Sullivan, a 50-passenger schooner with scientific laboratory, is occasionally brought in from Milwaukee for the festival. Vendors sell art and food, and live music wafts from two stages. Children play games and get their faces painted. All this is your usual festival activity, but the difference is the prevalence of nautical themes.
The fun begins at 10 a.m. and ends around sunset (6 p.m. on the final day). Regattas are a festival highlight, but they are not what you might expect. Two-person teams precariously paddle away in boats made from corrugated cardboard. Besides looking pretty (or interesting), these vessels need to stay afloat at least 175 yards. The fastest entry wins. So does the boat with “the most spectacular sinking.”
Competition occurs in two categories: boats built in a day (with materials provided) and those built further in advance. Teams with as many as 10 people construct each entry. Corporate teams and average families get involved, and there also is a youth division that involves cardboard boats.
Sign up for the WeekAway Newsletter to get the latest travel updates.