It’s a tale as old as time, and it’s full of pirates and parades, fish stories and fireworks.

When the windjammers blow into Boothbay Harbor for the annual Windjammer Days festival at the end of June, the downtown streets will be buzzing. From June 23-29, life on the peninsula gets ratcheted up a notch as crowds press in for a glimpse of the historic fleet.

It’s an unusual time of year when pirates openly roam the streets threatening to steal the ice cream cones out of children’s hands and something as innocent as rock skipping and tug of war becomes elevated to a competitive sport worthy of trash talk.

The 57th annual Windjammer Days schedule is packed with activities, most of them free and family friendly.

The schooners Eastwind, Spirit of Massachusetts and Harvey Gamage, right to left, sail around Boothbay Harbor on June 27, 2012, as part of the 50th annual Windjammer Days celebration in the town. Portland Press Herald file photo by Gregory Rec

There is a pirate invasion by the Pirates of the Dark Rose, along with pirate ship tours, pirate recruiting, weapons demonstrations, cannon lessons, pirate shoot-out and puppet shows. Other highly anticipated events include an antique boat parade, cod fish relay race, blessing of the fleet, oyster shucking contest and tug of war across the harbor. Visitors enjoy an artist’s alley, lobster eating contest, clambake, rum tasting and Coast Guard Station tours.

The highlight of the festival occurs when the windjammers arrive. The gathering of the fleet takes place between 1 and 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 26. The footbridge is a good place to wait. Fun and games continue until the parade hits the streets around 4 p.m., followed by live music, food, historical tours and fireworks. The windjammers depart Boothbay Harbor the next morning, but the party continues for several days with a golf tournament, concerts, road race and more. The popular lighted boat parade marks the official end of the week’s festivities.

There is a shuttle to control traffic downtown. For a full schedule, visit boothbayharborwindjammerdays.org.

Even after Windjammer Days is over, there is still plenty to do on the peninsula. A visit to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay will make winter a distant memory and get the home gardener dreaming of what could be.

This 250-acre property is just a mile off Route 27 but transports its guests to a whimsical land with swings, a treehouse, bear den, fairy forest and labyrinth. Trails lead down to scenic water views and there are squirting fountains, spinning sculptures and bold little squirrels who inhabit the land.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has grown over the years, so if it has been a while since your last visit, it may be time to return. There is a lovely gift shop and cafe, lively children’s garden, calming sensory garden, comfortable seating areas to take a break and labeled landscapes for the ambitious gardener who might wish to replicate a few of the plants at home.

Children enjoy scheduled puppet shows, storytimes, crafts, live chickens, pumping water with a hand pump and hanging clothes. They can play in a fairytale playhouse fully equipped with toy kitchen supplies, row a boat, fish for lobster and look for real frogs, turtles, dragonflies and butterflies. Voted “best garden” on TripAdvisor’s website, visit mainegardens.org for more.

Boothbay Railway Village on Route 27 delights young and old with a museum collection of more than 60 antique cars, trains and memorabilia. Staff and volunteers offer locomotive rides, there are historic buildings to tour in the recreated village on campus and children’s activities and special events abound.

On the annual slate of activities for the summer is an Antique Engine Meet, Books in Boothbay summer book fair, Antique Auto Days on the village green, “Rails, Tails & Ales: Midcoast Craft Beer Festival” and more. Visit railwayvillage.org.

Just because school is out in the summertime doesn’t mean learning needs to stop. There’s something to be learned for young and old at the Maine State Aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor. Located at McKown Point, the state operates this small local aquarium that allows visitors to interact with marine life in a large touch tank and even to pet small sharks, under supervision, of course.

It has a stunning waterfront picnic area outside the door, so pack a lunch and stay awhile. There are interactive exhibits, hands-on crafts, tanks filled with local sea creatures ranging from fish and eels to crabs, unusual lobsters and skate. There is also a small gift shop area for souvenirs.

Learn how fishermen use lobster traps, buoys, bait and their boats to catch lobster. For more information, visit maine.gov.

As in past years, the Opera House at Boothbay Harbor will offer a full schedule of live music, art and entertainment this summer. On June 19, the Opera House will display the photography of Associated Press journalist Peter Southwick, a part-time resident of Boothbay. The Celtic band Gaelic Storm blows into town June 25, followed by Paul Sullivan, Tim Sample, folk, bluegrass, ragtime, blues and more. For details and ticket information, visit boothbayoperahouse.com.

Those interested in dinner and a show will enjoy live matinees and dinner theater at Carousel Music Theater. This year there are three summer shows on tap. Guests receive a meal with dessert, served by the cast, along with a live show. Tickets for dessert and a show also are available.

This year’s schedule includes the musicals “A Broadway Salute to our Armed Forces,” “The 39 Steps,” and “Where Have All the Hippies Gone?” For dates and ticket information, visit carouselmusictheater.org.

History buffs will want to take a short ride up Route 27 to see Fort Edgecomb on Davis Island in Edgecomb. The state park features a well-preserved octagonal blockhouse that is open to the public. Finished in 1809, it offers views of the Sheepscot River.

Fort Edgecomb dates to 1809 and sits on Davis Island along the Sheepscot River. Photo by Kris Ferrazza

Guided tours and special activities are scheduled in the summer. Guests can get a view of the river from the musket ports and tour the grounds, which have picnic tables and restrooms. A fee is charged.

For a complete calendar of events and dining information for the Boothbay Region, visit the Chamber of Commerce website at boothbayharbor.com.

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