AMHERST - Pugwash is taking a step back to a bygone era this weekend when the tall ships arrive to give an added boost to HarbourFest.
"We're expecting more than 20,000 people in Pugwash this coming weekend for HarbourFest and the Tall Ships Festival," HarbourFest chair Dennis Brown told members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday. "When we started off planning we were talking about 15,000 people, then as we talked more it looked like 20,000. Now we think we'll easily exceed 20,000. This is really quite something for a village the size of Pugwash."
Originally five of the ships that participated in the Tall Ships Festival in Halifax were scheduled to appear in Pugwash, but one of those ships, the Sea Rover, had engine problems and had to withdraw.
Brown said the Pride of Baltimore II, Fair Jeanne, Mist of Avalon, Picton Castle and the Roseway are all expected to arrive in the harbour sometime Thursday evening after participating in a parade of sail in Pictou earlier in the day. Also appearing with be Theodore Tugboat II.
The ships will be tied up at the Canada Salt Company wharf in the village with public viewing and boarding from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday while the ships will leave port on Sunday.
Because of security regulations associated with the port and the ships, Brown said everyone over age 16 must have photo identification before being allowed on the wharf property and the ships.
Brown said the annual festival has been visited by individual tall ships in the past, but this is the first time the Tall Ships Festival has been part of HarbourFest.
Numerous other events are planned in the village including an art show and sale, the buskers, lobster suppers and food, craft and vendors market each day.
The opening ceremonies are set for Friday at 3 p.m. in Eaton Park and the HarbourFeast Dinner at the legion at 6 p.m. while Saturday's events include the tours, beach volleyball, the Across the Harbour Golf Challenge and a power boat poker rally.
There's also dory races, music in the park and the Nova Scotia arm wrestling championships as well as a breakfast-brunch early Sunday, washer toss tournament, sand castle competition and closing ceremonies on the final day.
"Four years ago, the need to highlight the advantages of Pugwash Harbour was best seen by organizing a festival," he said, adding more than 100 volunteers make HarbourFest a reality.
The festival, he said, will also go to support a number of community organizations with proceeds going back to support things like Communities in Bloom and Friends of the Library among others.