Marine Heritage Festival: Early history – part 1

Like most events, this summer’s Marine Heritage Festival in Southampton has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

This year, 2020, would have been the 10th anniversary of the free, fun-filled family event that spans the Civic Day holiday weekend.  With the cancellation this year and 10 days remaining until what would have been Festival weekend, we thought we would take a look back over the years and bring back some memories.

The Festival, organized by the volunteers of the Marine Heritage Society (Propeller Club), began modestly in 2011 to celebrate the vast marine heritage of the area and Southampton, the oldest port on the Lake Huron coast.

With many popular events throughout the region, such as Port Elgin’s Pumpkinfest, Wiarton’s Wiarton Willy and Kincardine’s Scottish Festival, the volunteers of the Marine Heritage Society-Propeller Club decided to hold a festival in 2011 in Southampton to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Chantry Island Lighthouse restoration, one of the few Imperial lighthouses on Lake Huron and to also reflect the marine heritage of the area.

The volunteers decided that the Civic holiday weekend would be the ideal time as it would not conflict with other events.  With an ambitious calendar that included a dance, Town Hall fundraising concert, fish fry and tours to Chantry Island, the 1st Annual Marine Heritage Festival was born.

The Festival of 2011 was a simple two-day event that began at Pioneer Park with entertainment, speeches and a ‘sail-past’ by the Southampton Yacht Club.

   Chantry Singers entertained with nautical songs
                                                             Dignitaries attended
      Jane Kramer was                recognized for her                      volunteerism
      (L) Sophie Champagne, Jana Gayle and Betty Bender enjoyed                                                   the event

That evening, a sold-out variety show fundraiser for Chantry Island was held at the Southampton Town Hall, featuring a wide range of entertainers.

For larger views, Click on Images

From that beginning, the annual Festival has continued to grow, both in activities and attendance.  Next, we’ll take a look at how the Marine Heritage Festival has evolved … stay tuned.