A picturesque day, a full schedule of events and dozens of vendors drew thousands of people to downtown Juneau’s waterfront.
The 11th Juneau Maritime Festival, a celebration of maritime history, culture and commerce hosted by Juneau Economic Development Council, was held Saturday. The festival, which took place on the deckover near the Downtown Public Library, is among the first large, in-person events to be held in the capital city since the pandemic.
“It’s so nice,” said Marjorie John, during a short interview following 8-year-old Mason John’s victory in a pool noodle boat race. John said she remembered seeing a question posted to social media asking whether the event should be held in-person. “I’m so glad that they did.”
With new cases down and both temperatures and vaccination rates rising, the event drew a crowd.
“Turnout to this point has been fantastic, said Brian Holst, executive director of JEDC.
Holst said while it was tough to provide something more concrete than an estimate for attendance while the event was in progress said it appeared comparable to the 2018 edition of the event, which attracted over 5,000 people. The number of vendors present was certainly up from previous years. There were 56 vendors at the festival, and Holst said in past years, there have been about 40 vendors.
“People are ready to come together as a community,” Holst said. “It’s been a wonderful day.”
The day included live music, maritime-related contests, food, a water rescue demonstration by the U.S. Coast Guard and cultural celebrations among other activities.
Nancy Barnes of the multi-cultural dance group Yèes Ku.oo Dancers said the Juneau Maritime Festival represented the first return to in-person performance for the dancers.
“I thought I’d be nervous, but I wasn’t,” said Ralphenia Dybdahl, another member of the dance group.
They said the return to performing and the sense of community that comes with it were welcome.
“This group here is like a family really,” Barnes said. “Everybody is just dying to dance.”