Calling all tugs, fireboats, canal boats, riverboats and other workboats: Meet at the junction of the Hudson River and the Erie Canal Sept. 9 for a weekend of fun strutting your stuff and blowing those bells and whistles.
That’s right, the 17th Annual Tugboat Roundup in Waterford, N.Y., is right around corner, running from Sept. 9-Sept. 11. The event, which bills itself as the largest tugboat festival in the Northeast, is looking for more vessels to participate.
If you operate a tug and can get up to Waterford, you can register your vessel to participate through Labor Day — or simply show up without your tug as the weekend is open to all “who appreciate the history and value of inland waterways transportation,” said Tom Beardsley, marine event coordinator for the Tugboat Roundup.
Beardsley said the festival draws industry attention from around the U.S., and will highlight the Hudson River and the New York State Canal System. In addition to showcasing the history and present day uses of the waterways, there’s something for everyone at the three-day gathering. The Roundup promises live music, kids events, boat rides, fireworks, tugboat pulling contests, a farmer’s market, arts and crafts, exhibits of antique motors and historic tugs as well as the latest in workboat vessel technology. There’s even a “Tug Chug” 5k foot race on the final morning. In years past, some 30,000 people have attended the festival.
This year, a hometown boat will claim Tug of the Year honors. The New York State Marine Highway Transportation Co. tug Frances has been selected as the 2016 honoree. Built in 1957 for Turecamo Boats, the 146-ton, 84’8″x24’x9’6″ Frances was stationed at the Port of Rensselaer, N.Y., for ship assists throughout the late ‘70s and ‘80s. The boat has a telescoping pilothouse, which allows it to duck under bridges along New York’s canals. Today, the Frances is a busy workboat along the East Coast, Hudson River, the NYS Canal System and the Great Lakes.
Waterford is located in Saratoga County, N.Y., about three hours north of New York City, and is the entry point into the New York State Canal Barge System. An historic canal village, the town is home to a mix of tugs and other working canal boats, as well as pleasure craft.