Longtime volunteer Jan Lamkin feared Tuesday’s Arts Festival boat building event would be a washout, but she was wrong.
“We thought with the rain today, forget about it,” she said shortly after handing out the last remaining
boat building kit. “But everyone came out. We couldn’t have asked for better.”
A longtime staple of the Arts Festival, the event drew well over 140 hopeful builders, many of whom
lined up in the rain hours later to race their creations across Redd’s Pond.
“We went through about 140 kits in an hour,” Ron Lamkin said.
Which resulted in some disappointed wannabe builders when the “sold out” sign went up. Organizer
Dan Tucker said he’d like to order more kits but 140 is about all they can handle during race time.
“We did 175 one year and it was too stressful,” he said.
Samantha Levinson remembers taking part in the boat building event when she was a kid and Tuesday,
she was in the Lee Mansion garden carrying on the tradition with her children, Esther and Ryan Jeon.
Levinson joked that when she participated when the boats were made of Styrofoam.
Tucker agreed they were large Styrofoam contraptions that only a few people actually got to create.
Today’s models are sleek and wooden-bodied with bright sails that come from Tippecanoe Boats in
Washington state. Paint is also provided so the builders can create their own one-of-a-kind racer.
Tucker has been heading up the event for the better part of 15 years.
“It’s marginally organized chaos, which is always fun,” he said when asked about his long tenure. “I’ve been a sailor my whole life, that’s another thing that keeps me coming back.”
Tucker said also loves the intergenerational aspect of the event, seeing parents and grandparents
working with kids “It’s fantastic.”
That intergenerational aspect extends to his own family as well. Tucker’s son, Trent McKinnon Tucker,
moved among the crowded tables offering tips to boatbuilders.
“I’ve been doing this basically my whole life,” said the 17-year-old.
“His sister is 23 and she’d probably say the same thing,” Dan Tucker said with a laugh.
But for Ben Singh, this was his first time creating a boat and he put his heart into it.
“We’re making the American Flag,” said the 5-year old who boldly added broad red and white stripes
under his blanket of stars.
Ben’s dad, Teghpal said they had just moved to Marblehead six-months ago and it was their first time
attending the Festival.
“We’ve had loads of fun at the Children’s Festival,” he said, adding that Ben also painted a cod, planted
seeds, created pottery and made a bracelet.
Ben planned to head to Redd’s Pond to race his boat later in the day, as did Winslow Lane, who was
pretty confident his boat “Shark Fin” would take home a prize. His 3-year-old sister Greer was more
“My boat is going to win its own way,” she said.
Jonathan Thompson wasn’t sure he was going to make it to Redd’s Pond to race his black and yellow
“I might just stay home and race it in the pool,” he said.
The gray skies opened up with a soft but steady rain at race time at Redd’s Pond which led to an
unprecedented turn of events. There was no winner in the first heat of 8-year-olds and under.
“Well, that’s a first in my 20 years of doing this,” Tucker said. “We’ve never not had a winner.”
Tucker started the race, boats flew into the water but most went immediately starboard where they
collected in a corner of the pond refusing to cross the water to the finish line on the other side.
“No wind,” Tucker said by way of explanation after calling the race 15 minutes in.
State Rep. Jenny Armini positioned herself in a kayak in the middle of Redd’s Pond where she played
boat wrangler, scooping up wayward vessels and delivering them back to their owners.
With the rain increasing and more bad weather in the forecast, Tucker decided to skip the second heat
and do one final “all in” race, where everyone, regardless of age was invited to participate.
The small front moving through had kicked up enough wind that a winner was in fact declared in the
final heat. Ryan Jeon, whose mom, Samantha Levinson, had raced all those years before him brought
home the prize, a festival T-shirt for his efforts, along with bragging rights.