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Tall sailing ships to bring sales, tourists to Duluth

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Duluth is preparing for a wave of tourists expected to come to the Twin Ports to watch the dramatic sight of 10 tall sailing ships arriving in the Grand Parade of Sail on Thursday.

In 2010, an estimated 250,000 spectators came to the port on Lake Superior for the festival. This year's event, which includes tours, music and racing, continues for four days, from July 25-29. The Duluth News Tribune reports that advance ticket for sales for this year's event have exceeded expectations. Tourism officials estimate that the festival will bring in $15 million from visitors.

The Thursday parade will include a variety of the striking historical replicas, expected to arrive to the crowded port at around 2 p.m. Included in the visit will be the US Brig Niagara and Pride of Baltimore II, replicas of ships from the War of 1812, the schooners S/V Denis Sullivan and Zeeto, and the Peacemaker, built in Brazil, and the SS Sorlandet, a full-rigged, three-mast ship from Norway.

Bayfront Park will extend hours for tourists to view the ships, and shuttles and bus service will ease parking snags. Those wanting to go aboard have already snapped up the approximately 2,600 tickets available for day sails.

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Organizers hoping to expand Duluth's Tall Ships festival next year

The News Tribune reports tourism officials are in talks with about 25 vessels to see which can attend the July 2013 festival. Nine ships and about 225,000 fans were part of the event two years ago. Visit Duluth President and CEO Terry Mattson says no vessels have committed to the festival yet, but expects that to change soon.