Get an Inside Look at the 40th Annual Harborfest

The Norfolk Harborfest 4-day event is happening this weekend, June 9-12 at Town Point Park. The event has become a local favorite with huge musical acts, delicious food and tasty beverages. The best part of it all is that it’s free for all to enjoy!

I chatted with the Marketing Director for FestEvents, Jason Nichols about this year’s event!

  • Q: Annaka Chesnutt, FOX 43
  • A: Jason Nichols, Marketing Director for FestEvents, Harborfest

How did Harborfest get started?

About 40 years ago, several tall ships were on their way to New York for their official ‘retirement party’ when a group of volunteers requested the ships to dock in Norfolk before continuing their voyage up the east coast.  At the time, Town Point Park didn’t exist and the waterfront was pretty much rubble with vacant warehouses. The group of volunteers created some floating docks, along with an invite to the community – to take a look at this massive ships – and I believe 13,000 people [approximately] came out to see. There were some vendors that joined in along with some musicians who brought the live music element. The city of Norfolk saw this event as having a positive impact to the community and continued it each year after. 

boat1 boat4

What exactly is the Parade of Sail?

The Parade of Sail is a plethora of tall ships, all of the local yacht club participants and we have some military vessels, Coast Guard and Navy, that participate in this 2-hour long parade. They start at Craney Island and sail down the Elizabeth River to Town Point Park in this very majestic setting! 

Who are some of the entertainment acts taking the stage this year?

Thursday, June 9 – Main Stage 

  • Virginia Symphony Orchestra @ 8:30 p.m. 

Friday, June 10 – Main Stage 

  • The Subdudes – 6 p.m.
  • Grace Potter – 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 11– Main Stage

  • The Defibulators – 3:15 p.m.
  • Last Bison – 5:45 p.m.
  • Rick Springfield – 8 p.m.
  • FIREWORKS – 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 12 – Main Stage 

*Check out who will be performing on the Boathouse Stage, The Back Deck Stage*

fireworks band2

You mentioned the fireworks, are those only on Saturday night?

Yes, only on Saturday night at 9:30 and we are going to go BIG this year for the anniversary! We are going to have two floating platforms along the Elizabeth River and the fireworks will be set to music which will make for an even more fantastic show!

What are some of the different boat races taking place?

We have the Chesapeake Bay work-boat, which is the Virginia state boat, they are going to do a parade and then compete in a drag race up the Elizabeth River. We also have the build a boat challenge where a group of participants are given supplies and told to build a boat Saturday, then Sunday we will have a competition to see who’s boat will stay afloat and win the race.

boat2 boat5

There are some unique and unusual performances happening, can you tell us about those?

We have the Red Trousers show, where two gentlemen perform their act which is very similar to Circus De Soleil, and put on a fantastic display of acrobatics. We have real mermaids in a tank, pirates and pirate school, a boardwalk arcade and more for family’s and kids to do!

acro2 mermaid

**Harborfest 2015 footage **