40th Annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum: One for the books
It had all the makings of a great movie: you had the glory of the Maine Fishermen’s Forum celebrating its 40th anniversary mixed with the drama of worrying about what the weather might be. The Samoset Resort crew sent out an e-mail on Monday morning of forum week with a bulldozer excavating a small glacier out of the alleyway in preparation for moving in the trade show: “Whatever it takes!” Inside the Samoset, everyone from cleaning crews to kitchen staff had their game faces on. Show time.
The ME DMR provided the drum roll for the opening day: the total value of 2014’s commercial marine resources harvest broke all previous records with an all-time high of $585,348,370. In the meantime, the forum itself reflected the industry’s mood: the trade show was full (and then some); rooms had been sold out ahead of time; fishermen and their families had come to celebrate, pool ideas, educate themselves and scope out the latest in gear and technology. Oh – and eat: Thursday’s “Chefs Celebrate Local Maine Seafood” (a “star chef-studded seafood immersion experience”) segued into the opening night Seafood Reception.
No one went hungry.
A bit of behind-the-scenes drama: the forum Board of Directors had set a goal of awarding $40,000 in scholarships at Saturday night’s banquet – a big number to aim for. Key to the effort (as always) was the Friday night auction with former state senator Dennis Damon manning the gavel and microphone. The numbers were mounting …
The days were whirlwinds of activity, from safety demonstrations to crowded trade show floors (it’s always a good sign when engine companies sell iron during the show) to packed seminars. Look – there’s Governor LePage. And over there: Dave Carraro from Wicked Tuna. And those $100 coffee cups kept adding to the scholarship kitty …
Saturday night: smiles, accolades, more food … followed by DJ Chris Grade spinning the crowd’s requests and a general high-five all around. The $40,000 goal had been reached, resulting in scholarships being awarded to 22 qualified applicants. The industry had celebrated itself in grand style – and given something back, as well. If you wanted to end with that same movie analogy, you could say that the 40th Maine Fishermen’s Forum was truly a feel-good hit.