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Watermen’s Festival Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Boats compete in docking contests at the 2019 Calvert Watermen’s Festival. Photo courtesy Calvert Watermen’s Association.

By Kathy Knotts

Watermen are like the horse wranglers of the Bay. So it comes as no surprise that they like to let loose like cowboys of the old West.

This time of year, the watermen of Calvert County are celebrating the end of a busy season and enjoying the fruits of their labors.

Sunday marks the 20th annual Calvert County Watermen’s Festival at Watermen’s Wharf in Solomons. There you will find a family friendly affair that draws visitors from across the Bay region. There’s food and drinks, live music by Deanna Dove, the Island Girl. Buoy toss and anchor toss contests for the kids. But the main attraction is a thrilling and exciting affair of churning water, spinning helms and churning motors.

The boat docking contests are perhaps the best known part of this festival. Workboats and charter boats compete for cash, prizes, trophies and, naturally, bragging rights. Competitors maneuver around pilings, lassoing lines and docking at full throttle into a slip with remarkable skill.

If docking contests are new to you, check out Cheryl Costello’s video report on the Chesapeake Cowboys to get a taste of just how thrilling the competition can be. Spoiler alert: the Cowboys aren’t all boys.

To experience the heart-pounding action in person, head to Solomons Sunday, Sept. 19 at noon for the festival: calvertwatermen.org.