Working Waterfront Festival Entertains with Fishing, Farming Attractions

By Jennifer Lade
NEW BEDFORD — Scallop shells were flying, whaling boats were moving and fish were frying on the first day of the Working Waterfront Festival on the city’s port.
Saturday’s sunny, crisp weather was a welcome change from last year’s downpours, and visitors came from all over to get a sense of what life is like when commercial fishing is your living.
“The fishing industry is New Bedford, and we should be proud of it and support it,” Associate Director Kirsten Bendiksen said.
New faces and new attractions cropped up at this year’s event, as organizers included farming in the festival’s theme. Farmers and fishermen have more in common than one might realize at first glance.
“It’s usually family, and they hand it down,” Bendiksen said. “Dealing with the weather and dealing with regulations, it’s very similar.”
The two industries could be found among the entertainment at the festival. On the Main Stage on Fisherman’s Wharf, Good Old Plough, a singing group specializing in the songs of the New Hampshire hill farm, sang a folksy song about making sugar. On Steamship Pier, the Providence-based Sharks Come Cruisin’ led the audience in sea chanteys with a rock influence.
Bob Quinn, a lobsterman, mailboat operator and storyteller with a thick Maine accent, read poems by his uncle. Although they were written years ago, their sentiments struck a chord with audience members. Many laughed after hearing lines from a poem entitled, “You Can’t Bank on a Bank Anymore,” originally about the Great Depression.
“I guess I don’t like banking or understand finance,” recited Quinn. “If I ever get my money back, I’ll keep it in my pants.”
The humor continued on another stage, where Jon Campbell and Allen Estes performed their music. Campbell sang a tongue-in-cheek song about “catch and release” whaling, but was serious when it came to his role in educating people about fishing.
“The contribution we think we can make … is to put a more publicly accessible voice to what’s going on in the industry,” he said.
As always, a favorite attraction was being welcomed aboard various vessels to see how they operated. For New Bedford resident Scotty Horton, 6, a tugboat was his favorite.
“It was good,” he said. “It had tires on the side.”
His grandfather, Ray, a Lakeville resident, learned a different lesson from the vessel tours.
“I don’t want to work on a scallop boat,” he said with a laugh.
In the food demonstration area, fishing magnate Carlos Rafael gave his take on fishing politics while fileting fish for the audience. He expressed his frustration about regulations that limit a U.S. fisherman’s catch, while countries with laxer rules make the profits.
“The more we scream, the less they listen,” he said.
Also this weekend, the Bourne Scallop Festival, now in its 40th year, attracted huge crowds. According to the festival Web site, the event included scallop dinners and other fare, live entertainment, rides and games and a craft fair and home show.
According to the Bourne Police, the area was experiencing huge traffic backups during the festival because of repair work being done on the Sagamore Bridge. Route 6 and Route 3 had bumper-to-bumper traffic, and backups were as long as six miles in some places, police said.
Both the Working Waterfront Festival and the Bourne Scallop Festival continue today. In Bourne, gates are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and in New Bedford, the festival will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 27, 2009
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