Thousands line Bodega Bay for annual Fisherman's Fest
Published: Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.
From the shoreline at Westside Park, Joe Imboden's toddler son, Brody, seemed just as interested in ladybugs crawling in the grass as he was in the colorful fishing boats that set out from Bodega Bay for the annual blessing of the fleet.
Festooned in colorful bunting, the fishing boats were the main event of the annual Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival on Sunday. And the weather for both fishermen and festival-goers couldn't have been better.
“We're just hanging out with the kid and enjoying the beautiful weather,” said Imboden of Napa.
All along the shoreline, people waved at the boats and took pictures or videos with cell phones, iPads and cameras.
Spud Point Crab Company owner Tony Anello's boat, the Annabelle, was the second boat in the single-file parade, just behind the New Sea Angler, which carried VIPs and the Catholic priest conducting the ceremony. When the boats reached the outer bay, each floated by the New Sea Angler for a splash of holy water.
The wind was an ideal 10 knots, much calmer than the first day of the festival, Saturday, which saw winds of about 27 knots, Anello said.
“It was beautiful. You couldn't ask for a better day,” he said, after returning to shore from the blessing. “Just enough to keep the flies off, as they usually say.”
Anello said he hoped this year's salmon season, which begins May 1, would be more productive than the previous.
“We don't expect a huge season, but we expect a better season than we've been having,” he said.
On Saturday, the festival drew close to 3,000 visitors, and the crowd Sunday was expected to rival that, said Laurie Ogg, chair of the Bodega Bay Auxiliary for Fisheries and a festival volunteer who was tracking attendance.
The main draw on Saturday was the Wooden Boat Challenge, a six-year-old event that's becoming increasingly popular, said Starr Swindt, who heads the contest.
This year, 18 four-person teams squared off in the three-hour boat building contest. Just the families of the 72 participants were enough for a respectable festival turnout.
On Sunday, the band Wonderbread 5 provided afternoon entertainment as festival-goers sipped wine or drank beer. Near the food vendors, people walked about in search of a curb or haystack on which to sit and eat fresh fish and chips.
About 500 volunteers made this year's event possible. All the proceeds go to help local nonprofits such as The Grange, the Bodega Bay Fire Department, Bodega Bay Church, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods and the local historical society.
In the past, about $80,000 has been distributed to local nonprofits, said Ellen Meuse, president of the event.
“It's in honor of the fishermen, that's the whole point of this,” said Meuse.
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