NORTH WILDWOOD — This weekend’s Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Maritime Festival focuses on the community and its ties to the water that surrounds it.
“We’re telling people to come celebrate the sea in Anglesea,” said Steve Murray of the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, referring to the section of town that is home to the lighthouse. “Everything here pertains to the sea.”
The festival, held on the lighthouse grounds, features vendors and artists along with organizations that work to preserve the area’s maritime history.
Among those taking part during the festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, are the Cape May Maritime Museum, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center and the Wetlands Institute.
The weekend will also include speakers from the nearby Coast Guard Training Center Cape May and even professional pirates, Murray said.
This year marks the third year for the festival, which drew about 8,000 visitors over two days last year.
Murray said the festival proceeds benefit the lighthouse, built in 1874, and its operations.
Plans to eventually create a maritime village with the use of a neighboring building that was once a lifesaving station are still being pursued, but for now the lighthouse is the focus.
Murray said it was fitting to hold a festival devoted to the area’s maritime traditions such as fishing and boating because the water is key to life here.
“I fished and crabbed all my life like everyone else who spent the summer down here,” Murray said.
“(The sea) is the reason why it existed, why it came to be,” he said of the city and its early Anglesea section.
The lighthouse and lifesaving station were among the earliest buildings here, and fishermen were the island’s first permanent settlers, he said.
“Fishing was the industry. Then tourism took over, but they both rely on the sea,” he said.
Among the displays planned for the festival are a restored Coast Guard rescue boat and a reproduction of a beach cart used for rescues in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“Our pristine, historic gem of a lighthouse is the perfect place to have lots of fun while learning more about the fascinating people and events of North Wildwood’s maritime past,” Mayor Bill Henfey said in a news release.
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