Three days of beautiful weather, seven tall ships, great food, good music and interesting vendors produces a winning combination for a new festival. Add to that hundreds of volunteers and thousands of visitors from near and far and you have a strong memory for all to share.

That was the sentiment of the visitors, area businesses and especially the volunteers after the ships sailed away on Aug. 5.

“We have so many people and businesses to thank. Those who helped make this event not only possible, also made it a grand success. When it all came together, there were over 600 people and entities involved. We can’t take credit for the weather, but we are very pleased with the end result for a first-time event,” said Kris Kochman, community relations liaison for the city of Kenosha.

The first stakeholders to offer their assistance were members of the Kenosha Sailing Center, the Kenosha Yacht Club, the U.S. Power Squadron and Southport Marina. Of the 425 event volunteers, 100 of them were from the city’s maritime partners.

In partnership with local members of the U.S. Power Squadron, Southport Marina members led the Parade of Sail.

Barry Moreland, general manager of Southport Marina, said, “We have the right boats and members to help make this happen.”

Southport Marina also hosted a crew party on Sunday night to close the weekend. The U.S. Power Squadron members provided extra assistance by signing up as teams of eight to help with ship tours.

“We have a lot of crew, but local assistance gives the crew a break,” said Capt. Dirk Lorenzen of Picton Castle.

The Kenosha Yacht Club board and membership were involved on many levels, from general assistance to hosting the ships and crews.

Doug Vaccarello, a Kenosha Yacht Club member and volunteer from Kenosha’s tall ship festivals in 2003 and 2004, oversaw the group that handled ship lines on both sides of the harbor for the Parade of Sail and all 30 sail-aways.

Kenosha Yacht Club member and former Commodore Virginia Hartley ran a corps of ship liaisons who helped host the ships during their stay. They were prepared for the long list of needs, from laundry to local restaurant recommendations. “Everyone was most appreciative of the intimacy provided by a small town, enjoying our beaches and our museums,” Hartley said.

Another Kenosha Yacht Club member, Sue Hill, recruited members and friends to help with general club needs and management of the tall ship crew center over the big weekend. The membership threw a party on Saturday night for the visiting international crew representing the United States, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Granada and England. And Fiji, if you include Fiji, Picton Castle’s feline crew member who was sighted everywhere!

Kenosha Tall Ships also presented the opportunity to put local youth on board the visiting ships, both at the dock and to sail. The Kenosha Sailing Center embraced the educational opportunities by recruiting their students for several on-board programs.

Eight students sailed for three days from Milwaukee, around Lake Michigan to Kenosha on the Milwaukee-based, S/V Denis Sullivan. The students had participated in sailing lessons and were ready for the next step.

In partnership with the city of Kenosha, other groups sailed on the Kenosha-based Red Witch and visiting tall ship, Appledore IV from Bay City, Mich. Those benefiting included youths from the Kenosha Boys & Girls Club, the Kenosha YMCA and the Kenosha Park Alliance.

The harbor was lively over the weekend. In addition to sail-aways, visiting tall ship crews were invited to sail some of the Kenosha Sailing Center boats.

The Kenosha Yacht Club on Simmons Island had the best view in the harbor to see the ships sail in and out. The club’s restaurant was open and ready to welcome anyone going on a sail-away or attending the Pike River Rendezvous, also on Simmons Island over tall ships weekend.

Club Rear Commodore Deb Strouf, head of the “galley” committee, said the grill was cooking full time with the help of volunteers. The restaurant ran as usual. “It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase our menu and our venue. We served close to 3,000 meals in four days. Not a record, but a really nice weekend.”

The tall ship rendezvous in Kenosha was made possible by a collaboration of Tall Ships America, a nonprofit organization based in Newport, R.I., and port cities around the Great Lakes. Tall Ships America organizes the Tall Ships Challenge races. In 2019, the tall ship races are officially sponsored by Erie Insurance.

Patricia Lock served as tall ships consultant for the Kenosha Tall Ships Festival.

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