Schoonerfest draws hundreds for maritime memories, music, fun

Mon, 08/23/2021 - 2:45pm

About this blog:

  • Barnako, wiscasset, Maine Art Gallery

    Frank Barnako is a seasonal resident of Wiscasset at Clarks Point on the Sheepscot River.   His career in journalism included on air and news director positions with CBS and NBC Radio and TV stations.  He was a pioneer in the Internet, helping to create and co-found where he also developed a 200-station radio network and wrote daily columns focused on the stock market, business news, and technology. Barnako describes himself as “an aspiring photographer,” whose work can be seen at<>. He is a member of the town’s Investment Advisory Committee. Email him at

I wasn’t ‘out and about’ much this week.  Schoonerfest, don’t 'cha know. Needed volunteers, and so dozens of us put on our t-shirts and went to work.

Two years in the making, the passion of Peter Wells propelled this idea of five days of nautical themed activities in the village.  It was a huge undertaking, going BIG even before even going “on”. 

Wiscasset has mellowed the past five years. New people are interested in building a home.  Walking the dog today, we met some folks from Alexandria, Va. who said they are thinking about moving here.  

Many of the new people are looking for a small town lifestyle. I may suggest that there are no “big fish” in a small town.  We're all in it together.  And so, you give up a couple of days in a week and pitch in to help the town put on a show like Schoonerfest

Which is what some 40 volunteers, members of the Maine National Guard, the parks, recreation, police and fire departments did the past four days.  Terry Heller, an ex-Texan, rounded up the horses and gave us our assignments.  And like magic, people showed up when and where they were needed and did their jobs.  I estimate that maybe 1,000 people visited the festival to enjoy and learn about Wiscasset’s history as a shipbuilder, to hear chanties and sea songs, to enjoy art galleries and lobster rolls, ice cream, and rock and roll.

The Wiscasset-built schooner When and If arrived Thursday morning to the welcome of cannon firing. Because hurricane Henri was coming up the coast, the captain pulled up anchor early Sunday morning to make course to a safer place.  The weather for the 'fest, frankly, was not the best - hot, then wet, then cool.

There’s already talk about next year's Schoonerfest.  Y’all come back, hear?


  • We won! one of the silent-auctioned Schoonerfest wooden ship cutouts: Jorge Pena’s “We the People”. 
  • Covid is still affecting our lives.  A minister in town says the past year has been the most challenging of his life.  He confesses to 'burnout' and is leaving the pulpit for a few weeks, hopefully, to re-charge.  We, too, feel that angst and have again canceled plans for a trip to France.