Hundreds of people gather near the stage during last year’s Juneau Maritime Festival on Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza. The event featured multiple musical performances by local bands and singers. ( Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)

Hundreds of people gather near the stage during last year’s Juneau Maritime Festival on Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza. The event featured multiple musical performances by local bands and singers. ( Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)

Annual Maritime Festival to get a military salute with arrival of US Navy missile destroyer

A record 90+ vendors, music, search and rescue demonstration, harbor cruises among Saturday’s events.

A traditional Indigenous canoe arrival, tour boat cruises with music by the Pajama Cat Sharks and a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer will be in port downtown on Saturday as part of the 14th annual Juneau Maritime Festival.

The festival at Elizabeth Peratrovich Plaza is scheduled to host a record number of vendors between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., with more than 90 participants offering food, crafts and other locally-sourced products, according to the Juneau Economic Development Council, which hosts the event. Live entertainment by various performers is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., a tug-of-war competition at 3 p.m., and the nearby Gold Town Theatre will screen fish-themed films from noon to 4 p.m.

Preceding the festival will be the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial Wall from 10-11 a.m. The memorial wall honors those lost at sea and others involved in the fishing industry, with more than 250 names currently engraved, including five added last year. The names will be read as boats pass in the harbor offshore during the ceremony.

”We have six new names to add so far this year, making a total of 263 names,” Carl Brodersen, current president of the memorial board, wrote in an email Thursday. “Engraving occurs later in the summer, so there is still time for people to send in an application, even after this Saturday’s ceremony.”

Third-generation Douglas resident Shannon Crossley pauses to touch the name of her grandfather William Dore, Sr. of the Fishing Vessel Valiant as she passes the Fishermen’s Memorial along the Seawalk on Monday. Engraved on the commemorative wall near Taku Smokeries are the names of over 200 deceased fishermen and women. The memorial honors those lost at sea and others involved in the fishing industry. On Saturday, May 4 at 10am the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Reading of Names will be conducted from the memorial as boats pass in the harbor offshore. Details can be found on the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial website. (Photo by Laurie Craig)

Third-generation Douglas resident Shannon Crossley pauses to touch the name of her grandfather William Dore, Sr. of the Fishing Vessel Valiant as she passes the Fishermen’s Memorial along the Seawalk on Monday. Engraved on the commemorative wall near Taku Smokeries are the names of over 200 deceased fishermen and women. The memorial honors those lost at sea and others involved in the fishing industry. On Saturday, May 4 at 10am the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Reading of Names will be conducted from the memorial as boats pass in the harbor offshore. Details can be found on the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial website. (Photo by Laurie Craig)

A formidable presence at the Maritime Festival will be the U.S. Navy’s 510-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence, scheduled to arrive during the day. Public tours of the vessel won’t be available until Sunday, but crew are expected to disembark and take part in the shore activities.

“It is the first time that a Navy vessel arrives the day of the festival,” said JEDC Executive Director Brian Holst.

Public tours of the William P. Lawrence will be available at the Cruise Ship Terminal Dock from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, and from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, according to an announcement from Navy Public Affairs. There will be no admittance to the existing tour waiting line after 3 p.m.

He said another military presence will be members of the U.S. Coast Guard performing a search and rescue demonstration at noon.

“The Coast Guard has been a regular participant and they’re going to show up again, not with a vessel this year, but they’re going to show up to do a helicopter demonstration, a rescue demonstration, which is something they have done often for us. It’s part of the training hours that these pilots and crew have to go through, but they’re happy to do the training in front of us.”

The USS William P. Lawrence is scheduled to be in Juneau between Saturday and Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Navy Public Affairs)

The USS William P. Lawrence is scheduled to be in Juneau between Saturday and Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Navy Public Affairs)

Leading off the festival activities at 11 a.m. will be the traditional arrival of the One People Canoe Society in a ceremony featuring the Yees Ku Oo dancers. Vendors will also begin operating then, with festival organizers saying it was a challenge to squeeze the more than 90 participants in, given that there was a waiting list for the 69 vendors at last year’s festival and another waiting list for this year.

“We have a volunteer at Northwind Architects that helped us to optimize the space,” Holst said. “But we are not sure how we’re going to add more vendors into that same space if the interest continues. But we just couldn’t be happier that we could accommodate as many vendors as we’re able to this year.”

Entertainment is by nearly all local performers ranging from students in the Juneau Alaska Music Matters program at 12:30 p.m. to the Irish/Scottish rock band Fire on McGinnis at 6 p.m. An exception is the Navy Band Northwest Bangor Brass Band based in Silverdale, Washington, which will perform at 4:45 p.m. as a prelude to its appearances at the Juneau Jazz and Classics festival that also starts Saturday.

Four 45-minute harbor cruises will be offered beginning with a kids’ cruise at 11:45 a.m., environmental education cruise at 1 p.m., and two music cruises featuring live music by the Pajama Cat Sharks at 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The annual tug-of-war contest is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., with teams of six people able to sign up in advance by emailing maritime@jedc.org or registering at the JEDC booth the day of the festival.

The weather forecast for Saturday is for mostly sunny skies with highs in the 60s and light winds. But for people feeling inclined to get indoors for a bit — or simply with an interest in fish tales on film — a mini-festival of movies will be screened at the Gold Town Theatre between noon and 4 p.m., in association with the Net Your Problem booth at the Maritime Festival, which will be accepting old PVC raingear for recycling as part of its mission to reduce marine environmental impacts.

“We’ll be screening Alaskan films that showcase ways we steward our environment — from recycling, to supporting traditional lifestyles and even the emerging mariculture industry,” an announcement for the screening notes. “The films will be played on a loop and end with a final loop and Q&A at 3pm. Soda and popcorn will be provided and the first 50 people will receive free Grundens swag.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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