August may seem like a long way off, as we navigate winter blasts and February inches toward March.

But in the case of this summer’s big event, the 2019 Tall Ships Challenge in the Kenosha Harbor, it’s closer than you think. It’s not too early to plan for visitors and to buy tickets.

The Tall Ships Festival will return to Kenosha Aug. 1-4 for the first time since 2003, The city hosted a few of the ships in the 2007 Day of Discovery Festival, but not the fleet.

Ten other Great Lakes cities will host the festival this year. They are Green Bay; Bay City, Mich., Cleveland; Erie; and Buffalo in the U.S., and Toronto, Midland, Sarnia, Kingsville and Brockville in Ontario, Canada.

Our recent update story, “Excitement building for Tall Ships Festival,” generated quite a buzz on social media and included important planning information, particularly if you are interested in parade of sail and sail-away experiences.

Kenosha’s Red Witch and the Appledore IV of Bay City will offer parade of sail and sail-away tours on Lake Michigan. Tickets for general admission to the festival and for on-board sails are available at www.kenoshatallships.com.

The festival should draw tens of thousands of visitors to Kenosha and in some cases serve to introduce them to our bustling HarborMarket on Saturdays and other attractions we enjoy.

“It’s a prime opportunity to showcase our downtown, our museums and harbor,” said Kris Kochman, a community relations liaison for the city. “The festival also provides on-board opportunities and experiential education for area youth.

“... This will be a Kenosha-wide event — both on land and on lake — as these ships will also help us focus on our 13 miles of shoreline,” Kochman said.

In addition to the Red Witch and the Appledore IV, some ships coming our way include the U.S. Brig Niagara of Erie, Barque Picton Castle of the Cook Islands, Bluenose II of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, S/V Denis Sullivan of Milwaukee and Pride of Baltimore II of Baltimore.

When it was announced last June that the festival would come here in 2019, Patricia Lock, director of special projects for Tall Ships America, stressed the educational value of the event. Kids can sign up to help crew the ships.

“It’s become a ‘bucket list’ for a lot of people,” Lock said. “We get the kids to get their feet wet, get them on board and think about careers in the Coast Guard or be Bob Ballard, the (underwater) explorer.”

At the time, Mayor John Antaramian said he hopes to “capture and keep” the festival in Kenosha long term.

We’re all for that, but today we just want to remind you to think about planning ahead for this summer’s special event in Kenosha. Parade of sail and sail-away tickets will sell out.

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