A festival this weekend in the Massachusetts port town of New Bedford showcased the working waterfront, on the piers and in the harbor. From a scallop-shucking contest to whaleboat races, festival goers got to see Southern New England’s maritime heritage come alive. Here's an audio postcard from a new event at the 12-year-old festival, the nautical tattoo contest.

By the last round of the scallop shucking contest, the stage on Steamship Wharf was a gloppy mess. Hundreds of scallop shells littered a blue plastic tarp on the ground. It took longer to spray the whole place down than it did for the winners to shuck hundreds of bivalves.

But soon a panel of judges took their seats and an emcee explained the next event: the nautical tattoo contest.

“So each contestant will walk on stage. They’re going to show their tattoo to the judges," with points for artistry, stage presence, and a good story.

And there were some good ones. Like the tale from this Louisiana-born shrimper who resented everyone with a bigger boat than his custom-built skiff. Until one day, he made enough money to buy a bigger one.

Read the full story at Rhode Island Public Radio >>

Read more about Working Waterfront Festival >>

A collection of stories from guest authors.

Join the Conversation