Searsport celebrated its history and all things marine with over 20 events last weekend in its second annual Maritime Heritage Days.

Despite rain in the morning of Aug. 12, boat tugs of war and canoe races went as planned, with a team of Angler's restaurant staff winning both events.

Afterward a boat parade, new this year, circled the harbor for a crowd of spectators gathered at Hamilton's Wharf. Organizers had called for "anything from kayaks to schooners" and got the whole gamut. Kayakers with decorated boats paddled along the shore, along with a reproduction of a Thomas J. Day whitehall-style rowboat from Penobscot Marine Museum, while larger boats, including a Norweigan pilot boat and a two-masted schooner slowly circled twice around the harbor.

Cipperly Good, Penobscot Marine Museum curator and collections manager, said there was good turnout for the boat events, and the museum had "a nice little crowd" for its sea-shanties singalong.

Other events included a Searsport history- and nautical-themed trivia night at Coastal Cafe, a civil war encampment at the Carver Memorial Library, an archaeological tour of Sears Island, a street dance party, and fireworks.

"A couple of family reunions were in town and showed up to events," Good said. "The idea was to bring people back to Searsport to honor its heritage, so I think it was a good second year."

Searsport Historical Society volunteers gave tours of the historic Crary Carlin Coleman House later that day. Each room is dedicated to a famous Searsport sea captain or other local historical figure.

"At one time 10 percent of all registered sea captains in the country lived here, which is remarkable," said Searsport Historical Society trustee and town Selectman Mark Bradstreet.

He said that in Searsport's heyday in the mid-19th century, seven shipyards were building wooden ships here. Townspeople would buy shares in the boats they built, resulting in a large percentage of the town being involved in the shipping industry.

Once those shipyards closed, Searsport went into decline, Bradstreet said.

Besides shipbuilding, other marine activities greatly contributed to Searsport's economy in the past and have been the subject of recent talks and exhibitions in town. The Penobscot Marine Museum is featuring an exhibit this summer, called "Gone Fishing," on the state's once-impressive fishing industry. The Penobscot Bay fishery once included 220 weirs, supported 400 fishermen and brought in $10 million in today's dollars, according to Bill Leavenworth of Searsmont in a talk he gave at the museum July 6.

Later, in the 1950s and '60s, the Searsport and Stockton Springs area was "the clam capital of Maine," according to University of Maine Machias biology professor Dr. Brian Beal at a talk he gave at Searsport District High School May 11.

"Commercial harvesting was one of the big drivers of the local economy, he said. "Now all the clamming that happens is recreational; no commercial clamming is done around here."

In addition to recalling the town's past glory, the weekend celebrations were meant to highlight its maritime potential. Searsport's Mack Point port facility is one of the state's three major ports, and its most expandable, Selectman Jack Merrithew pointed out in an interview before the event. The Ocean School, a marine-career-focused magnet school, is also under development in town, with plans to open in the fall of 2018.

"The intent is to not only celebrate our heritage but also our future," Merrithew said. "The new school will (play) a great part in that."