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The Commercial Fishermen's Festival is now in its fifth year of bringing commercial fishermen and industry leaders together with the public for a fast-paced, fun-filled day that celebrates the men and women who risk their lives to bring seafood to our tables. The Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday September 8-9 and features competitions, seafood cooking demonstrations, gear displays, Coast Guard rescue demonstrations, and more!
Each year a number of captains and crew from fishing vessels featured on Discovery Channel's top-rated hit, Deadliest Catch, visit the Commercial Fishermen's Festival to meet with fans. This year's featured guests include Emmy Award Winning producer and director Todd Stanley and Captain Johnathan Hillstrand from the F/V Time Bandit. Author Spike Walker whose book, Working on the Edge inspired the TV series will also be participating this year. Other Deadliest Catch stars planning to attend include Mike Vanderveldt (F/V Kodiak), Captain Rick and Donna Quashnick (F/V Maverick), Ryan Simpson (F/V Cornelia Marie), Jake Jolibois (F/V Kodiak), Morgan Howard (F/V Cornelia Marie) and Matt Bradley (F/V Northwestern). Captain Quashnick is board President for the Commercial Fishermen's Festival and his wife Donna is also on the board. They appeared in the first three seasons of Deadliest Catch and have been part of the Festival board since 2009.
"We are getting positive feedback from other captains and crew from Deadliest Catch and look forward to another strong showing for the fans," added Festival Board Member Liz McMaster, who along with her husband Marty own the F/V Lady Laura here in Astoria.
Competitions are the centerpiece of the Festival with events designed for the highliners, greenhorns and even landlubbers to participate in. The Captain Phil Harris Highliner Competition pits the pros in a grueling event that puts commercial fishermen through a series of tasks to showcase skills specific to the industry. The event begins with stacking eight crab pots weighing over 100 lbs. each and finishes when a barmaid slaps the fishermen to stop the clock. The Highliner of the year wins $1000 in cash and other prizes.
Competitions also include crab line coiling, survival suit races, slime eel toss and crab pot stacking. This year XtraTuf is sponsoring the Dover Sole Relay race and will be giving free boots to the first ten teams that register by September 1. To be eligible for the free boots, teams must complete and turn in a registration form. The form can be found at www.CommercialFishermensFestival.com. For details call 503-791-8703 or email office@CommercialFishermensFestival.com
Seafood Culinary Demonstrations take place at the Pacific Seafood Galley. Featured chefs include Amy Roloff – star of TLC's television hit Little People, Big World and Matthew Puetz, who along with his father Gary are known as the Seafood Stewards. Donna Quashnick (F/V Maverick) and "Chef Daddy" Chris Holen (owner of Baked Alaska Restaurant) will also be doing cooking demonstrations. Pacific Seafood serves up grilled oysters throughout both days of the Festival at its popular booth and culinary demo galley.
The US Coast Guard has an even greater presence at the Festival this year with over-the-water Search and Rescue demonstrations, tours of its helicopter and two of its boats. The National Guard is bringing its rock-climbing wall and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration will have a tsunami debris display.
Astoria's Wet Dog Café is operating a beer garden featuring their locally brewed beer and there will be food, craft and industry vendors at the Festival.
"We also have activities for kids," added Liz McMaster. The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park is bringing Kids Corps activities to the Festival and new this year is a Pirate School where participants enter as civilians and leave walking, talking and dressing like a pirate, complete with "booty" from Davy Jones' locker. There is also a Kids Highliner competition for young fans and fishermen.
The mission of the Commercial Fishermen's Festival is to educate the public about the fishing industry, including the steps fishermen have taken to ensure a renewable resource for the future. The Festival showcases American fisheries and the process of selecting, preparing and cooking seafood.
The mission is also dedicated to offering fishermen and industry professionals an opportunity to bond and share information that will save lives, improve productivity, increase demand for seafood products, and promote job opportunities.
Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under (kids age five and under are free). The Festival takes place at the Hammond Marina near Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon. For more information, registration forms, and a schedule of events call 503-791-8703 or visit the website: commercialfishermensfestival.com.