Commercial fishermen, scientists, and shellfish farming experts from up and down the eastern seaboard and around the country are expected to come to Ocean City this weekend for the 47th East Coast Commercial Fishermen’s and Aquaculture Trade Expo at the convention center on 40th Street.
Trade show coordinator Victoria Brown, who was setting up the event on Wednesday, said the show has drawn upwards of 4,000 people in the past, but since people are itching to get out and do something, this year could draw the same or more.
“We’re expecting a big crowd,” she said.
Doors for the expo will open on Friday, Jan. 14 at 11 a.m. and will shutter at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the event is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The cost to attend the expo is $15 for one day, $25 for two days, and $30 for three days.
On Saturday, the association will hold its annual membership meeting on the second floor of the convention center at 10 a.m., and coffee and pastries will be served.
Several seminars will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, which will include topics like commercial fishing and regulations, regulations on menhaden and striped bass, marketing for the future, and shellfish.
The seminars will be put on by experts from the University of Maryland, University of Delaware, Virginia Tech, and the National Aquaculture Association, just to name a few.
Following the seminar at 3 p.m., the Waterman of the Year competition will take place in room 208 of the convention center.
A non-denominational church service will be held at 9 a.m. on Sunday at the convention center, followed by the annual truck raffle drawing at the Maryland Watermen’s Association booth at 3 p.m.
Along with the trade show, the expo will feature a cocktail party and auction at the Clarion on 101st Street on Friday evening, which is open to the public.
For $40, attendees will get all-you-can-eat seafood hors d’oeuvres – which will include things such as rockfish, catfish, crab balls, clam chowder, clam strips, fried oysters, and scallops – and a raw bar.
The cocktail party, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and runs until 8:30 p.m., will also have an open bar for the first hour and a half, before switching to a cash bar.
At 7:15 p.m., the auction will begin.
Brown said an auctioneer will be on hand to auction off items from vendors. She explained that every vendor donates at least one item, which could be a crab pot, survival suit, book, picture, hat, shirt, or anything else, and the money raised goes toward a fund to help watermen in need.
As for covid-19 restrictions, Brown added that if people are not vaccinated, they will be asked to wear a mask, just like many businesses require.
“We’re hoping the turnout is really good because people are ready to get out and about, even with covid,” she said. “We’re going to have a good show.”
The Maryland Watermen’s Association was established in 1973 and serves the interests of watermen and the seafood industry throughout the state.
For more information about the trade show, visit www.marylandwatermen.com/Trade-Show.html.