By Larry Claflin Jr.
Before Halloween tourists take over Salem, the city invites its residents — and others from around the North Shore — to enjoy Salem Heritage Days, Aug. 6 through 15.
Salem Heritage Days kicks off with the popular Maritime Festival, run by the National Park Service. Activities continue through the week and into the next weekend, culminating with the Salem Chamber of Commerce Essex Street Fair.
In between those events will be the Mayor's Night Out Restaurant Sampler (Aug. 9) and the Ice Scream Bowl (Aug. 10).
Other Heritage Days events include Salem Senior Recognition Days, window box and traffic island beautification awards, Salem Farmers Market, a best pizza competition, Movie on the Common — After Dark, Kids Night, and a Salem Jazz and Soul Festival/Berklee College of Music Summer Series mini-concert.
Activities will take place at locations around the city, including the Essex Street pedestrian mall, Salem Common, Derby Square and Derby Wharf, said Jennifer Bell of Salem Main Streets.
Rinus Oosthoek, Salem Chamber of Commerce's executive director, predicted Heritage Days' first weekend — the Maritime Festival — will be more eventful than last year, due to a $22,000 grant the National Parks Service received.
A portion of the money will be used to help pay for two replica schooners — the Thomas E. Lannon out of Gloucester and Salem's Fame — to take visitors for sails around the harbor.
"The goal is to really grow (Heritage Days) back into a bigger event," said Oosthoek, who has been with the chamber four years.
Oosthoek said he will be at all events, as part of his job, but he and his wife will especially enjoy the return of Entrain, a band from Martha's Vineyard that plays a mix of rock, blues, calypso, zydeco, jazz and funk. Entrain will play at Derby Wharf on Aug. 6 from 7 to 9 p.m.
IF YOU GO
What: Salem Heritage Days
Where: Locations around downtown Salem
When: Aug. 6 through 15
Cost: Free, some events require admission fee
More information: salemmainstreets.org