9 tall ships coming to Green Bay for festival

Nine tall ships are coming to Green Bay for a weekend festival in which visitors will be allowed to tour some vessels and sail on others.

Organizers expect as many as 60,000 people to attend over the three-day Baylake Bank Tall Ship Festival on the Fox River, the Press-Gazette Media reported. Five ships will be open for tours, while attendees can take sailing excursions on the other four.

Sara Klemme, who is helping to organize the event, said people see these ships in movies but rarely get a chance to see them up close.

“To meet these people, and see this really is a way of life, I think that’s the appeal,” she said.

City officials see the festival as a boon for downtown Green Bay in terms of economic traffic and exposure for the city.

Jeff Mirkes, the executive director of Downtown Green Bay Inc., said the festival brings in money and provides cultural exposure.

“The historical and educational component an event like this brings is part of the draw,” he said.

Organizers are also trying to make the event about more than just the ships, adding more live music and expanded food and beverage options.

But Klemme said organizers made special effort to ensure the educational aspect would remain prominent.

“We didn’t take advantage of the knowledge of the ship captains and crews in the past,” she said. “Each ship will be giving a seminar throughout the weekend on different topics, whether it’s … the history of their ship or what life is really like on board.”

The event happens every three years as part of a race series run by Tall Ships America.