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All Aboard: Here’s How Forecastle’s ‘Party Cove’ Comes Together

Forecastle Prep

Mo McKnight Howe leads me between two glitter-covered, seafoam green signs that read “Party Cove.” There’s an artist balancing disco balls on top of each.

She points to a white and gold yacht beached in a small grassy area nestled between two hills.

“I go literally boatyard to boatyard and like talk to these owners and I’m like, ‘Do you have an old boat I can use,” Howe says. “And everyone always looks at me crazy, ‘You want to do what?’”

What she wants to do is paint them — or rather, recruit about a dozen artists to turn them into a nautical canvas at Forecastle.

Howe, who is best known as the owner of Revelry Boutique Gallery, oversees Party Cove at the festival, a relatively secluded spot that sits far-right of Waterfront Park, with a decidedly laid-back disco theme.

Last year was the first Howe designed the cove from the ground-up — and it was packed the entire time with dancing, painting and pop-up performances. This weekend, she’s bringing it back.

And while the cove has an effortless festival look, Howe says it actually takes a lot of planning.

There's six months of design meetings, time spent recruiting and interviewing artists, locating and hauling a boat, purchasing decorations, and then finally a multi-day set-up, which is what Howe is in the middle of right now.

“We started here on Sunday,” Howe says. “They start locking down the site on Sunday, and we are here all week, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. all week. I would say 80-plus hours go into this, not including the planning.”

This year, Howe is using tattoo artists to work on the boat, which is the centerpiece of this slice of the Forecastle grounds.

“Because I think they have the best line-work and control, and they’re also used to painting and drawing on unusual surfaces,” Howe says.

Forecastle Festival begins Friday. You can read more about the line-up here.