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Celebrating all things 'Juneau'

Posted: Friday, May 21, 2010

For the first time ever on National Maritime Day, Juneau will celebrate its ongoing relationship with the sea through a cultural event focused on the people, the commerce and the rich waters that surround the city.

The first Juneau Maritime Festival, will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday and run until 5 p.m. at the downtown Marine Park and Plaza. The program for the day features activities and demonstrations all echoing the festival's theme. In addition, local businesses will have a chance to showcase their products, which will in turn, raise awareness on how much the city depends on its closest neighbor; the ocean.

"It's about what it means to live in Juneau and how that's connected to the ocean, which, as I've learned, it all is," said Jessalynn Rintala, program associate for the Juneau Economic Development Council. "Everything we do is connected to our being a maritime community. So, this event is an organic product of that fact."

The festival's organizing committee is made up of local businesses and organizations like Resource Data Inc., the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Goldbelt Inc., the Marine Exchange of Alaska, Alaska SeaGrant, the U.S. Coast Guard, United Fishermen of Alaska and the U.S. Navy.

Rintala said during the organization of the festival, she learned more about, and grew to appreciate the different aspects of Juneau's maritime lifestyle.

"Sometimes it's obvious, like fishing being a part of our culture and commerce, but then you realize that things like photography and the amazing scenery here are also part of that culture," she said. "Even the art that is made by locals, so much of it is influenced by Juneau being a maritime community."

She said the event will give businesses, groups and individuals impacted by the ocean a chance to get together to promote and, in turn, educate community members on how Juneau is connected to the sea.

That organizing committee has arranged plenty of activities for the public to enjoy Saturday afternoon. One event will feature a live demonstration of a U.S. Coast Guard water rescue by helicopter. The USCG will also host a contest to see who can get into a survival suit the fastest.

Those at the festival can also tour a commercial fishing vessel or inspect a motor life boat, which has the capacity to roll over safely in rough water. Festival goers can also visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's mobile forecasting station.

Opportunities will be available for kids, too. Some activities include on-site fishing and operating remote underwater robots.

"There was no shortage of great ideas for the inaugural event, and we weren't even able to get them all to happen. What we can take away is there are a million-and-one different ways to do this kind of thing," Rintala said. "For an inaugural event the response has been incredible. The way people in Juneau get together and make things like this happen never ceases to amaze me."

Festivities will commence at 11 a.m. with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Wild Alaska Marinade contest, which will feature live grilling, judging and sampling at the festival's grill tent. There will also be live music beginning at the same time at the Marine Park Pavilion and activities will be going on throughout the day at Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater, as well. A full schedule of events can be found at www.juneaumaritimefestival.org.



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