Courtesy Port of Redwood CitySailing and other maritime-related activities are part of PortFest

Festival to celebrate Port of Redwood City operations

PortFest will return to the Port of Redwood City on Saturday, offering a host of activities, including boat rides, trolley tours of the working port's industrial operations, live music, a 5-kilometer and half-marathon races, as well as food trucks, a beer garden and Tiki bar.

Additionally, a cargo ship is scheduled to be docked in the port receiving tons of scrap metal bound for Asia, allowing fest attendees to have a rare opportunity to observe the ship-loading process. Event admission is free.

Port Executive Director Mike Giari called the ship's presence a fortunate coincidence, noting that the port only sees about 60 commercial vessels per year, and there was no guarantee that PortFest would happen to coincide with a cargo-loading operation. There won't be many longshoremen to observe working in action, however, as the process is mostly automated, with the metal traveling up a giant conveyor before being dropped into the ship's cargo area, Giari explained.

Another key attraction will be boat tours provided by the Marine Science Institute, using the organization's research vessel. Forty minutes long and costing $5, the tours are expected to sell out, and Giari advises making advance reservations on PortFest's website. Free boat rides will be offered by the Spinnaker Sailing School and the Sea Scouts organization, which teaches young people skills that can be applied to maritime careers. Giari noted that some Sea Scout members have gone on to study at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo before working in maritime industries.

PortFest will also serve as the starting and ending point for OktobeRun, a fundraiser for the Redwood City Educational Foundation that includes both 5K and half-marathon runs.

Giari said the port may provide overflow parking for the event, but visitors can avoid parking hassles by using the free shuttles that will run to and from the nearby Caltrain station every hour.

PortFest is partly designed to teach Peninsula residents about the Port of Redwood City operations, Giari said, and commercial activity is just one of the port's functions. The site is also a starting point for San Francisco Bay and waterfront recreational activities, including fishing, kayaking, sailing and rowing. With the exception of a very small port at Alviso in Santa Clara County, the Redwood City facility is the southernmost point where the public can access the Bay for recreation, according to Giari.

“People come to the waterfront to experience a connection to the Bay,” Giari noted.

As for commercial activities, Giari said about 30 percent of the port's business is related to recycling, but in terms of sheer tonnage, the port's largest volume of business is receiving in-bound construction materials, which feed Silicon Valley's development boom.

If You Go

When: Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Port of Redwood City

Seaport Court, Redwood City

Admission: Free

Info: www.rwcportfest.com

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