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Basil Port of Call: Buffalo – be on the look out for this historic event to celebrate Buffalo’s maritime heritage

© by Tall Ships America, Greenport

In 2019, the view from Buffalo’s waterfront will look as it did over 100 years ago, as we welcome a majestic fleet of historic tall ships – for the first time in modern history – from harbors throughout the United States and Canada. Basil Port of Call: Buffalo, a four-day, family-friendly celebration of the city’s maritime heritage, will take place Thursday, July 4 through Sunday, July 7, 2019 at Canalside and along the downtown waterfront.

Event organizer and founding president of the Buffalo Lighthouse Association, Michael Vogel, adds “what we are hoping to do is establish a recurring signature event for Buffalo’s waterfront, providing a great visitor and local family experience with a major economic impact. For us it’s all about the ships and the link to this city’s rich maritime heritage, but we’re also looking to showcase Buffalo’s new recreational waterfront and put it solidly on the national ship-visit map.”

The multi-day event offers visitors a unique opportunity to view, board and explore the vessels. Festivities will include family activities, live entertainment, historic exhibits, artisan foods and beverages, music, and a Parade of Sail of the tall ship fleet. Bert Rogers, Executive Director, Tall Ships America said, “Reflecting its past as the Queen City of the Great Lakes and paying tribute to the 21st century rebirth of its waterfront, we are excited to bring the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® to Buffalo and honor a city that played a role in maritime history as one of the North’s largest trade ports. We are also thrilled to recognize Buffalo’s long, peaceful relationship and shared waters with Canada.”  

VIDEO: Tall Ships Challenge, 2009

Buffalo will serve as a new host port of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2019 race from Toronto to Buffalo, on July 4-7, 2019. The TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® is an annual series of tall ships races and maritime port festivals on the Great Lakes and the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts that informs the general public about tall ships, maritime heritage, and sail training. For the first time in its modern history, at least seven Class A and Class B vessels will simultaneously grace the Buffalo waterfront, evoking an era of romance and adventure.

Vogel says, “If we succeed, this will happen every three years — and in 2025, that will coincide with the major celebration of the bicentennial of the Erie Canal.”

It is expected that this event will have a $6 to $8 million dollar economic impact on the local economy. The event hosts are preparing for more than 125,000 visitors from WNY and across the region. Most event activities and viewing are free and open to the public. There will be additional paid “Passport” ticketing options that allow for a closer view and boarding of some of the ships.

Ticket information and the schedule of events will be released in late 2018. Currently, they are seeking event volunteers. Individuals who are interested in volunteering can sign up through the event website.

For more information visit, or follow on Facebook at @PortofCallBuffalo

Buffalo Rising is a proud media sponsor of this historic event.

Written by Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli is a WNY native, born and raised in the Lincoln Park area of Tonawanda. She has been involved in local politics from an early age and is currently a Tonawanda Democratic Committee Member. As an avid equestrian and animal-lover, she trained and re-homed over 40 horses. For over a decade, she was an event planner with the law firm, Hodgson Russ LLP, and now owns her own marketing and event management company. She has worked with international and national organizations on large and small scale events. Jessica writes on politics and local events, as well as working with Buffalo Rising as a social reporter.

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