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LAUNCH! A Maritime Festival: A Brand New Event Making Big Waves

If you're having trouble finding the ideal location for your next summer vacation, let us point you toward Kennebunkport, Maine, for an experience you won't forget. From some of the best dining on the East Coast to an abundance of picture perfect panoramic views, this city is a one-of-a-kind getaway destination.


While the city’s history dates back to the 1660’s, the city really came into its own at the beginning of the 19th Century. The town was originally known as Cape Corpus, but when shipbuilding and commerce sparked major growth in the community, the name was changed to Kennebunkport in 1821. As the city continued to grow through the 19th Century, more and more people began to discover the area as a prime getaway destination. The 1870’s saw the building of many resorts in the area and before long it was one the top vacation destination in the Northeastern United States.


As a go-to vacation destination, the city has been among the best in the world for over a century. This has given the city time to develop a seemingly endless amount of activities and things for you to do. The beaches here are great with well maintained public facilities, perfect for everything from sunbathing to fishing. Boat tours are can’t-miss attractions thanks to the rocky shoreline, rolling waves and opportunities to see unique sea life like whales. Back on land, the dining options are second to none. From top quality seafood creations to delicious pizzas, you’ll find it all here. Historic sites, landmarks, buildings and museums dot the landscape, and provide you with the chance to learn about the rich history of Kennebunkport. The city is also the location of some of the top festivals in the region. A brand new event already making waves is LAUNCH! A Maritime Festival.


While this is only the first year of Launch! A Maritime Festival, Kennebunkport and the surrounding communities are welcoming the event with open arms. This is a family friendly festival held in various locations throughout this beautiful city. Some of the activities and attractions you'll find here include: a 5k run, boat parade, parties, cooking competition, tours of the city and so much more.  Make your next vacation one that you’ll remember for years to come and head to Kennebunkport for LAUNCH! A Maritime Festival. got the oppotuntiy to interview Laura Dolce, Executive Director of the Kennebunk - Kennebunkport - Arundel Chamber of Commerce, to talk about this brand new fesitval.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

LD: 2016 is the inaugural year for LAUNCH! and we're thrilled! We're hoping that many will come, but since this is a first-year event, we'll have to wait and see! One event has already sold out, and ticket sales are going well, so we're hopeful that attendance will be robust.


RAL: What is the typical demographic makeup of the event?

LD: Since it's the first year we can't say for sure, but there will be events that will appeal to everyone​. Some are very family-oriented and include bouncy houses, face painting, etc. Others are educational, and delve into our local history. We have two 21+ events and there are events focused on the culinary talents in our area. ​


RAL: What makes this event unique?

LD: It will bring awareness to the Kennebunks' maritime history, which has never been done before​. Everything is centered around the maritime theme and showing appreciation for our shipbuilding past, present and future.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

LD: Here is a breakdown.

  • Kick off the day at the Sailors & Sirens 5K, which will take runners through the Franciscan Monastery property and around the beach​

  • ​Visit Crafts on the River, a local crafts fair on the South Congregational Church lawn. Local craftsman and artists will be there in abundance. ​

  • Grab lite bites at the Captain's Cook-Off at the Waterhouse Center in downtown Kennebunk. Witness four local chefs competing for the title of Most Distinctive Chef and sample the locals' best chowder, blueberry and maple dishes.

  • Listen to a Living History Storyteller in Lower Village/Kennebunkport. Ever want to hear the story of one of our famous ship captains? This is your chance to not only hear their story, but see them in person!

  • Enjoy a classic Maine lobster bake on the working waterfront

  • ​Have a nice cold cocktail at the 21+ Rock the Boat After Party on ​the Spirit of Massachusetts

  • End the day watching boats parade down the Kennebunk River decorated with lights and different themes


RAL: What dining options will people find at the festival?

LD: The options include: Classic Lobster Bake, Clam Jam, Seafood Night for Pizza Lovers, Wine & Waves River Cruise: Outstanding Summer Wines​, and many private dining options in our award-winning restaurants.


RAL: What is the overall environment like?

LD: The majority of events will be held outside, across all three towns of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel​. Many will take place along our working waterfront, giving people a front row view of this area's beauty.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

​LD: The Kennebunks are known for their intimate B&Bs and independent resorts. We have everything from four-room bed and breakfasts to grand historic resorts with hundreds of rooms, and even some sleek, modern boutique hotels. There are promotions available, particularly with local hotels. Many are offering LAUNCH! packages for guests.


RAL: What does the event mean to the community?

LD: The community has embraced this festival with open arms. The enthusiasm, support and outreach has been extremely heartwarming, and it's the first "happening" to cross borders and include all three of our towns - Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel. ​People seem to truly welcome the opportunity to share our local seafaring history.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

LD: Yes. Along with overnight bookings, many events are being held at local businesses. In addition, we've built in down time, so guests can shop, eat out and enjoy some local experiences.​


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?

LD: There are a number of non-profits involved and benefiting from events including Community Outreach Services (food pantry), Knights of Columbus, ​KKA Chamber, South Congregational Church, Downeast Divas (battling blood cancers), Brick Store Museum, Kennebunkport Historical Society, Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, Kennebunkport Fire Department


RAL: Why should people come to your event?​

LD: Launch! A Maritime Festival celebrates the Kennebunks' maritime history and has allowed us to create a unique schedule of events that include something for everyone. In addition, many of the elements are free or at an affordable price point, allowing families to have a wonderful experience but not at the expense of their wallets. Launch! will bring together both the community and our visitors at one of the most scenic spots in the northeast.

For more information about Launch! A Maritime Festival, please visit their website.