New festival offers opportunity to eat, drink and be merry in New Bedford

Posted Jan 12, 2017 at 2:59 PM

NEW BEDFORD – A Massachusetts-based event company is bringing a trendy new addition to New Bedford’s slate of summertime festivals.

The city will host a Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival on July 15 at Fort Taber.

The event, announced Thursday, will bring at least 20 food trucks from the surrounding region and more than a dozen local, regional and national breweries.

“We are delighted they chose us as one of their locations,” said Dagny Ashley, the city’s Director of Tourism and Marketing. “We were looking for new ways to attract new visitors and new demographics to New Bedford and we thought this would be a good way to doing that.”

Ashley reached out in the fall to Anne-Marie Aigner, president of Allston-based Aigner/Prensky Marketing Group and executive producer of Food Truck Festivals of America, about bringing a festival to the city.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve lived in Massachusetts for 35 years and I don’t know if I’ve ever been in New Bedford,” Aigner said. “But when I drove around with Dagny …; I was totally blown away.”

The festival, Aigner said, could help spread the word about all New Bedford has to offer.

“We’re using a trendy event …; to draw young people to the area for a reason other than, ‘Hey, come see New Bedford,'” she said. “Once they get there, I think they’ll have the same reaction I did – ‘Wow, I didn’t know this was here.'”

Ashley said that is precisely the goal.

“Let’s bring them in and show them everything we have to offer in the city,” she said.

The tour began in 2011 in the Pine Hills community in Plymouth. It has since grown to a national concern.

“At the first one in 2011 we had eight trucks. We now have a listing in New England alone of 550 food trucks,” Aigner said.

It has effectively seized upon the rise in food culture and the spike in popularity of craft beers.

“Food trucks and craft beer, it was a marriage made in heaven in our books,” she said.

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Nantucket-New Bedford ferry has strong summer


NEW BEDFORD — The harbor was a much busier place than usual last summer, as a strong revival of Nantucket ferry service boosted Seastreak’s passenger numbers and ridership skyrocketed on launches to and from Pope’s Island, local moorings, City Pier and other spots, ferry and harbor leaders said Thursday.

“We definitely saw an incline (in passengers),” Seastreak general manager John Silvia said Thursday. “It was a good season, very good.”

Silvia, reached outside his office and without access to firm numbers, said Seastreak had about 45,000 passengers on the first season of revived ferry service to and from Nantucket, which ran from May 18 through Labor Day. Seastreak’s service to Martha’s Vineyard also began May 18, and ran through Columbus Day.

Total ridership for all Seastreak services over the summer was nearly 120,000, he said, well above the summer 2015 total of about 70,000.

Silvia said in May that Seastreak was expecting to increase ridership by about 37,000 passengers.

“I think the service outperformed what we were expecting,” said Ed Anthes-Washburn, port director for the city’s Harbor Development Commission (HDC). “I think it’s a great sign for New Bedford that in the first year, that (Nantucket) service was going like gangbusters. We look forward to getting as many of those people to stop in and learn about New Bedford as we can.”

Increases in ferry passengers can have ripple effects throughout the local economy. Anthes-Washburn said a difference in local foot and vehicle traffic was noticeable over the summer.

He said that over the Fourth of July weekend, for example, “we filled the Whale’s Tooth parking lot to capacity” for the first time in about 10 years.

“We definitely saw a big difference in parking revenue,” he said.

Silvia said the Nantucket ferry service “absolutely” will continue next year, in addition to other current destinations — and new destinations could be coming in future years.

Silvia said Seastreak is “building a new boat” that will be based in New York City and make runs to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, while docking in New Bedford over the summer weekends.

Once that boat is on the water, Silvia said, a Seastreak boat currently used in New York will come here. That 141-foot vessel has a capacity of 500 passengers, he said, and could increase spots for Vineyard service while also freeing up a smaller boat for potential runs to new destinations, possibly starting in 2018.

“Potentially Provincetown, maybe Block Island, we’re not sure,” Silvia said. “We’re excited to be growing the New Bedford end of things. There are a lot of new things coming up on the horizon in the next few years that will continue our growth and really put us on the map.”

Anthes-Washburn said recreational boating activity picked up on the harbor, as well. Ridership on the HDC’s launch service jumped from just over 1,000 last summer to more than 3,000 rides this summer, he said.

Much of the increase was seen in “transient moorings,” or people coming in on boats from outside the area, he said.

Anthes-Washburn said while the busiest route for launch rides was between moorings and the Pope’s Island marina, the second-busiest was between the island and City Pier — indicating summertime visitors were heading toward events on the pier or downtown.

“We’re showing people that New Bedford is a unique place to visit, and that seems to be resonating,” he said.

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New Bedford Harbor as a Sailing Destination & Adventure!


Blue Hill, Eastern, Corinthian, Edgewood, Red Brook, Beverly, New Bedford; these are not just a string of names and places, but some of New England’s top yacht clubs. Add to that list – Cruising Club of America and the Catalina Owners Association. Now, can you guess what they all have in common? Answer: This summer they will all be setting sail for historic New Bedford Harbor.

Once considered strictly a commercial fishing harbor, through the efforts of the Harbor Development Commission (HDC) this well-protected, deep water harbor has been transformed into a Mecca for visiting boaters. The 2010 re-grid of the Pope’s Island mooring field at the north end of the harbor, newly installed ground tackle and the fact that the mooring field can now accommodate boats up to 55 LOA have played a big role in making this a popular destination for regional boat clubs and organizations. Both Pope’s Island Marina and the U.S. Coast Guard Park (located on the downtown waterfront) have been upgraded with new dinghy docks.

Pope’s Island has nothing to do with the Vatican but its location is divine. The small island is home to a big marina known for creating a welcoming community for seasonal and transient boaters alike. Operated by HDC, the marina sits prominently at the head of the harbor like a jewel in the city’s recreational boating crown. Additionally, the location offers easy access to downtown restaurants, museums, galleries and other attractions – including the Whaling National Park Historic District. Flanked by New Bedford on one side and Fairhaven on the other, the marina is also convenient to a ships chandlery, hardware store, engine repair/parts and canvas shop.

Top this all off with much to do within walking distance of the downtown waterfront and you have the perfect destination. Just a few blocks from the Visitors Center is the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Ocean Emporium. Art galleries are abundant, as well as an array of shopping opportunities and an eclectic selection of restaurants Ð from casual to fine dining; seafood to Italian, Portuguese and whatever your palette is craving!

In addition to being such an excellent cruising destination, New Bedford is a very nice gateway to Martha’s Vineyard. For all of you who love the water, would like to visit beautiful places and don’t want to drive or hop aboard their own boat Ð here is the answer to your summer vacation! If you live close to Atlantic Highlands, NJ or Manhattan, catch a ride on Seastreak! Seastreak leaves Chelsea Pier on Friday afternoons for Martha’s Vineyard. The ship gets onto the Island at about 10 pm and leaves Sunday afternoon – a perfect schedule for a weekend break or a 10-day island vacation.

For those who live closer to Eastern Connecticut, a two-hour drive will put you in New Bedford where you can either explore the city or board Seastreak. Seastreak arrives at Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard, where transportation to anywhere on the island be arranged. Rent a car, catch a cab or catch the island bus, which operates until the wee morning hours during the summer.

Even without a boat, the Vineyard offers so much to do! One of my favorite weekend past times is to buy a day pass on the bus. Pick up a route map at the bus ticket office, get on and off where you want. The island’s transit system will take you just about anyplace you want to go Ð including Morning Glory Farm, which is famous for its fresh produce and specialty products.

Of course, if the bus isn’t your thing, you can always tour the island in the luxury of a rental car. But scooters and bikes are an other option for those who want to feel the sun on their face and wind in their hair. With so many little delis and the local Stop & Shop, it’s easy to throw together a picnic lunch and head for your favorite corner of the island Ð be it a beach or an off-the-path hideaway. Whatever your sightseeing and relaxation needs may be, you are sure to find them on the Vineyard!

New Bedford Harbor no longer a secret, but New England’s new, must visit sailing destination and your gateway to the world beyond!

For more information visit – go to the third page of our cruising section and read Laurie Bullard’s Destination New Bedford story; visit or Visit and to plan your Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

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