The 63rd annual Newport Loyalty Days and Sea Fair Festival kicked off on Thursday and will offer a wide variety of events throughout the weekend. And has been the case for the past couple of years, the festival will again be combined with the Newport Blessing of the Fleet activities on Sunday.
The Loyalty Days and Sea Fair Festival is a long-time tradition of honoring veterans and active military personal and, at the same time, showing off Newport. Activities got underway on Thursday with the opening of the Davis Show Carnival on Port of Newport property in South Beach. Carnival hours are from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. today (Friday), from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Also today will be the coronation ceremony to crown this year’s Loyalty Day Queen. That takes place at 7 p.m. at the Newport Performing Arts Center. This year’s princesses are Natalie Hanna, Guadalupe Martinez, Breanna Russell and Britnie Gwynn. The coronation will be followed by the “Reading of the Names” in the gazebo at Don & Ann Davis Park, located just west of the PAC. During this ceremony, Lincoln County military personnel who lost their lives during war will be remembered.
On Saturday will be a Newport favorite, the Loyalty Days Parade, which begins at noon and travels south along Highway 101 through the heart of Newport. Just before the parade itself begins, the annual Loyalty Days Parade Run will take place, with people young and old running (and walking) past spectators along the two-mile parade route.
After the parade, open houses are set at Coast Guard Station Yaquina Bay, the National Guard Armory and American Legion Post 116.
The Blessing of the Fleet activities begin at 9 a.m. Sunday on the Newport Bayfront with the Survival Suit Races, where teams of three don survival suits while being timed. They enter the bay and swim out to a raft anchored about 50 feet from the dock.
The boat parade for the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony gets underway at 10:30 a.m. from the area near the Port of Newport International Terminal. The Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter (if available) and the motor lifeboats of Coast Guard Station Yaquina Bay signal the start of the parade. All boats will pass in front of a Coast Guard motor lifeboat, where local ministers will bless each vessel.
A barbecue lunch, hosted by the Newport Fishermen’s Wives, begins at 1 p.m. in Englund Marine’s parking lot. Also during that time, the annual Highliner Competition will be held. Fishermen and others are invited to compete in a race involving fishing-related tasks, such as crab pot stacking, net mending, coiling and knot tying, among other things.
The Blessing of the Fleet activities will conclude at 4 p.m. with a memorial service at the Fishermen’s Memorial Sanctuary at Yaquina Bay State Park. This service is meant to offer support and encouragement to the families and community while remembering Lincoln County fishermen lost at sea.