HAMMOND The Commercial Fishermens Festival hopes to attract more boats by moving to Hammond.
For the past two years, the festival had been held on Port of Astoria land at Tongue Point. This years festival will be Sept. 8-9 at the Hammond Marina.
We were just wanting to try something different We wanted to get a little closer to the river, said Rick Quashnick, board president and captain of the fishing vessel Maverick.
The festival has been moved several times in its short existence. It began in 2008 as a special event at the Astoria Sunday Market. The goal was to educate the public about commercial fishing by offering displays and competitions.
In 2009, the Astoria Sunday Market put on a larger event at Pier 2 in Astoria.
After enjoying considerable success, the Commercial Fishermens Festival formed its own 501(c)(3) organization.
We really liked the port docks, said Quashnick. You were right on the water and we could line it with boats.
But after the Port of Astoria began leasing Pier 2 to Westerlund Log Handlers, the festival moved to Tongue Point for 2010 and 2011.
Like other coastal festivals, attendance depends much on the weather. Volunteer Cyndi Mudge said about 2,500 people attended last years event, held over a soggy weekend. She said 5,000 people attended the festival in 2010, when it was drier.
The 2012 festival is scheduled for a week earlier than usual, in hopes of favorable weather. Its a little bit close to the end of the sport salmon season, so were a little concerned about that, Quashnick said.
Expenses for the festival were about $70,000 in 2010 and 2011, Mudge said. Net revenue was about $5,000, enough for start-up funds for this year upcoming.
We probably get as many people from out of town as we do from in town, Quashnick said.
The board decided to move this years festival to Hammond because, Quashnick said, while the Tongue Point location was spacious, it felt a bit too big. Plus, access to the water was limited.
He said the Warrenton Business Association and the Port of Astoria have been supportive of the move. Weve got a lot more stuff we can do at the Hammond Marina, he said.
Event suggestions include having water taxis travel between Astoria and the marina, and increasing the number of boats open for tours.
We try to involve as many local guys as we can, he said. Its hard to get the guys to come in from fishing I dont know from year to year whether the Maverick will be there. Its still the heat of the season.
Past festivals have included Coast Guard helicopter demonstrations, live music, a beer garden, food and craft vendors, seafood cooking demonstrations and kids activities.
Commercial fishermen and amateurs also can put their strength, stamina and dexterity to the test in a variety of competitions.
Too, visitors can meet commercial fishermen from the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch.
For more information, visit commercialfishermensfestival.com.