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Sailor's Prayer


History of the Chicago Maritime Festival

In 2003, the first Chicago Maritime Festival produced the most diverse maritime program ever staged in Chicago. The festival drew over 1,000 people to its seminars, concerts, school programs, and shanty sing. Since then, the festival and festival outreach programs have been attended by over 46,500 people. During the years 2003-2014 it was is held the last Saturday in February at the Chicago History Museum. Because our 10th Anniversary coincided with the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, we received support from the Canadian Consul General to bring maritime music performers from Canada and also to engage a number of presentations about the War. In 2015 and 2016 the festival was held in April when it moved to the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Each year, festival goers enjoy seminars and workshops plus ship models, displays, and demonstrations presented by the individuals and organizations that make up the maritime community in Chicago as well as some presenters from across the country and across the sea. The Chicago Maritime Festival is organized by Common Times in cooperation with the Chicago Maritime Museum, the Old Town School of Folk Music, and the Chicago History Museum.


Common Times is an organization dedicated to promote awareness and understanding of folk culture in the State of Illinois through a variety of avenues that have included the publication of a quarterly newsletter, a folk resource guide, and the production of concert and festival events.


The Chicago Maritime Museum's mission is to preserve, increase and disseminate knowledge of the maritime history of the city of Chicago and its nautical surroundings; to collect, restore, interpret and display artifacts and documents of Chicago's maritime history; to further awareness of the appreciation of our waterways as they have do contribute to our experience and progress.


The Old Town School teaches and celebrates music and cultural expressions rooted in the traditions of diverse American and global communities. It remains committed to teaching and presenting music that reflects the rich culture of Chicago.


The Chicago History Museum collects, exhibits, and interprets documents, images, and artifacts related to the history of the United States and metropolitan Chicago. Its mission is to expand audiences for history, to be a leader in history education, and to be a premier research institution. The newly renovated Chicago History Museum opened in September of 2006.