This is the festival that commemorates all things water. Held in the picturesque town of Toledo, seven miles east of Newport, the annual Wooden Boat Festival features small-town goodness, family fun and a celebration of the craftsman heritage afloat the Yaquina River.
Initiated in 2005 by the Port of Toledo in recognition of the City of Toledo’s centennial, this gathering of grassroots riches combines music, food, art and a bounty of water sports.
“It is small town life at its finest,” said Debbie Scacco, assistant port manager. And she ought to know. This is her 10th year of working on this festival, alongside a volunteer committee, corporate and small business sponsors, vendors, as well as boat-building and water safety demonstrations.
Held on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 17 and 18, this year’s festival brings in entertainment and music from local hotspots and throughout the Pacific Northwest. A smorgasbord of music will be featured at the Waterfront Park Pavilion stage. Paul Bogaard, music director, is pleased to announce that Portland bluesman Curtis Salgado will be the headline act on Saturday afternoon, marking his first appearance on the Toledo stage. Returning again this year is the popular rhythm and blues Sonny Hess Band, always a favorite with the waterfront crowds, along with Terry Robb, Robby Laws Trio, McDougall, the McCoys, Saundra Perrin, Weird Science and the Greg Ernst Trio rounding out the musical selections.
Boat building has long been a staple in Toledo. Wooden tugs were built during World War II and generations of families have perfected the art of assembling exotic freight and pleasure cruise boats for the Toledo harbor, once a major shipping route.
This year’s festival will include the use of two boathouses, complete with boat building demonstrations and family-friendly hands on activities. The Toledo Yacht Club will offer free boating experiences, equipment and safety gear with assistance from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
“The emphasis will be fun for all,” Scacco said, adding, “We will have informational booths throughout the harbor designed especially for kids.”
And while there will be a variety of games and boatbuilding competitions, the real story of the show are the boats themselves. Runabouts, sailboats, dories, mini tugs, kayaks, paddle boards, and even a seafaring tuna vessel. Some have been owner built, several are timeless classics which have been painstakingly restored, or built for prior family boat building events. The Port will also have its trio of Teak Lady sailboats on display to entertain boat lovers of all ages.
The Wooden Boat Festival brings an array of food vendors, marine supplies, nautical gifts and clothing. The Oregon Coast Aquarium will have informational displays and answer questions about marine life. This is a community event that is proudly sponsored by all facets of Toledo’s business and residential communities. And don’t miss the early pancake breakfast which kicks off both days of this waterfest, sponsored by the Toledo Chamber of Commerce and the Toledo Downtown Association.
Back by popular demand, this year’s featured event is the Georgia Pacific Container board Boat Contest in which challengers of all ages compete to design the best and fastest water-worthy boat from cardboard. Testing these designs starts at 2 pm on Saturday, with predictably madcap results.
And there’s a Poker Paddle with four stations and prizes for winners, a silent auction, potato cannon demonstrations and model boat building activities.
There will be plenty of free boating opportunities coordinated by the Toledo Community Boathouse and the Oregon Boating Foundation. The idea is to have fun and paddle about with a special emphasis on safety.
Scacco says the Port of Toledo was founded to facilitate dredging of the Yaquina River for boats to travel.
“It is all part of our history,” she said, “so whether you come to learn about boating, enjoy a cool paddle on the water, see pirates, or take the kids on a treasure hunt, it is all here in Toledo.”
For more information, a complete schedule of events, and map and lodging, go to: www.portoftoledo.org/wooden-boat-show.