July 20, 1911: Water carnival delights Duluth

On this day in 1911, the Duluth Boat Club kicked off a three-day water carnival—a traditional that began in 1907—including an evening “Venetian Fete” on the bay that included an “immense illumination system” over the bay that promised to produce lights of 60,000 candle power. Downtown Duluth was decked out in red, white, and blue pennants and flags from Seventh Avenue West to Third Avenue East, from First Street to the Boat Club on Minnesota Point at 10th Street South, four blocks south of the Duluth Ship Canal. Thousand were expected to attend from out of town. The first day of the event was relatively quiet, but it featured a parade of horses followed by motorboat races featuring the “best high powered crafts in the country.” The event also featured rowing races between clubs from the U.S. and Canada, sailing races, canoe races, a historical pageant, Army and Navy maneuvers, and novelties including canoe tilting, canoe wrestling, and a water baseball game.

The Duluth Boat Club’s 1911 “Venetian Fete.” (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)