HAMMOND They came, they saw, they had fun with fish.
More than 1,000 people were on hand Saturday for the first day of the Commercial Fishermens Festival.
And none went away from the Hammond Marina disappointed, having had the opportunity to eat lots of fish, take part in competitions and meet fishing celebrities.
Among the latter were Capt. Rick and Donna Quashnick, of the fishing vessel Maverick. The couple, who appeared in the earliest seasons of Discovery Channels The Deadliest Catch, were on hand and people flocked to the boat throughout the day. They even conducted cooking demonstrations featuring tuna and crawdads, said Cyndi Mudge, one of the organizers.
It was awesome to get a ride on the boat, one visitor, Tina Protsman, posted on Facebook afterward.
Fans of The Deadliest Catch, which, while entertaining, has also helped the world learn about the perils of commercial fishers, waited in line throughout the day to meet visiting captains and crew, including Johnathan Hillstrand from the F/V Time Bandit and Bob Perkey from the F/V Seabrooke. Author Spike Walker, who now lives in his hometown of Yacolt, Wash., was also on hand. Walkers much admired book Working on the Edge, about the dangers of commercial fishing in Alaska, helped spawn the TV show.
The most popular competitions continued to be the XtraTuf Dover Sole Relay Race, which was open to all, and the Capt. Phil Harris Highliner Competition, which was limited to the professionals. Despite its name, the sole relay featured teams of three who had to carry salmon heads through an obstacle course balanced on a shovel.
The Highliner event featured skills that apply to commercial fishing, including getting into a survival suit in the least possible time. It has previously been won by such regional fishing notables as Danny Sturgell and Michael Giles. Marty McMaster, owner of the F/V Lady Laura, won the 2013 title, having been featured as a winner and top contender in prior years, taking over the mantle earned last year by 60-year-old Capt. Jim Simpson.
Commercial fisher and TV show member Travis Lofland signed and sold copies of his cookbook Dangerous Tales and Manly Recipes from the Bering Sea.
Other names on hand were Scott Hillstrand of F/V Time Bandit, Nick McGlashan of F/V Kodiak and Cape Caution, Matt Bradley of F/V Cornelia Marie, Mike Vanderveldt of F/V Kodiak and Saga.
Culinary offerings included smoked salmon chowder from Dan and Tina Delay, who operate The Farm on U.S. Highway 30.
New in this sixth annual incarnation of the event were detailed model commercial fishing boats on display. Visiting children used radio controls to bring the boats to life in a large display pool.
Children also sampled a Ye Olde Pirate and Explorers School hosted by Columbia River Maritime Museum and the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. Another new item was a rock climbing wall brought in by the Oregon National Guard.