Friday, August 28, 2009

sardine events

Herring Fishing in Castine, Maine
Orrin Dickey Collection
Belfast Historical Society
(see first comment for photo text)

We are hoping to put together a series of events for the summer of 2010. These events would celebrate the sardine, the sardine fishery, and the people and communities whose lives were so interconnected with the sardine fishery. We hope to have events taking place at the sites of sardine canneries, but would like to see the events branch out to libraries, historical societies, galleries, schools...We hope to include poets, musicians, dancers, painters, sculptors and other artists as well as oral history projects, showings of historical photographs, and first person accounts from those who were involved in the sardine industry. We are looking for people, ideas, locations...

Belfast is our epicenter, and the birthplace of our vision. We want to use the postmodern ruin of the sardine plant there, connected to the pedestrian bridge.We can see a sardine procession crossing the bridge, banners on the lightposts, poetry, song and dance all on site. We hope for artists collaborating with the sardine theme. Possibly bringing the sardine carrier Jacob Pike over from the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport to tie up in Belfast. There are many possibilities, and we would like to hear your ideas.

In Bass Harbor we hope to work with the Bass Harbor Library and the Tremont Historical Society to have a showing of Eleanor Mayo's photos of women workers at the sardine plant, connected to a reading of work by her cousin Ruth Moore (selections from The Weir and The Night Charlie Tended Weir) as well as readings, music, and art -

In Port Clyde we hope to work with the Herring Gut Learning Center and the Marshall Point Lighthouse and Museum to present a night of readings from our sardine literature and connected historical displays. The Marshall Point Museum has a display
featuring information on the night that the Port Clyde sardine plant burned down, the boiler exploding, sending sardine can shrapnel raining onto the town.

We hope to have other events in Lubec, Prospect Harbor, Rockland... but we want to involve people, and we want to hear your ideas. You can leave ideas, comments, suggestions here at this page, or you can email us:
Gary Lawless
Karin Spitfire
We really welcome input!

Current recommendations:
We are really excited about Joe Upton's beautiful book Amaretto, about his time in Penobscot Bay with his 60 year old sardine carrier Amaretto. Beautifully told, this book is now out of print. Get it from your library or buy a used copy.

Gordon Bok's CD Herrings in the Bay, especially the song Herring Croon.

Ruth Moore's novel The Weir. Her father was the last weir fisherman on Gott's Island, and this novel reflects that life.

Loretta Krupinski's show at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport (only on view until early September) A Voyage through Time,Coastal Marine Fishing 1850-1940. She has painted from old historical photos of Maine Coast fishing village scenes, and each painting is displayed next to the photo from which she has painted (adding a few details - a cat, the Rockland breakwater) This work will be presented next summer as a new book from Down East Books: Looking Astern - An Artist's View of Maine's Historic Working Waterfront (from Belfast to Bath) and we hope to include a booksigning event at one of our sardine events.


  1. Text by Orrin Dickey, Belfast:
    Rev. William Andrews of Northport tells a story of the days when fish swam up the Goose River, so thick in the water that rowing a boat across the river was almost an impossibility owing to the fact that the boat was thrown out of the water by the rush of the fish. In Castine, the fishermen have actually walked on fish this fall, and the number have been so plenty that they were at last obliged to release them from the weirs that they might go out with the tides.

  2. The Amaretto was originally named Muriel. The seiner belonged to my grandfather who fished out of North Lubec. I used to hand line off the deck while it was tied to the dock at the sardine plant in North Lubec. The girls were not allowed to go out on the boat during any of the long hauls. He sold the boat after retiring and it was revamped into a pleasure vessels and then sunk.