Sunday, 14 July 2019 16:13

People gather for annual Fishermen's Day fun Featured

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STONINGTON - Sunday was the 30th Fishermen's Day in Stonington. It's a day to honor fishermen and the sometimes dangerous work they do.


In addition to the vendors, rowboat racing, and lobster eating taking place at the pier, three fishermen were inducted into the Fishermen's Hall of Fame organized by the Island Fishermen's Wives Association.


One of those men is Ronald Shepard, who still goes out fishing.


"I didn't expect it, I'll be seventy in March," said Shepard.


He said his favorite part of the job is, "being in the water, fresh air, salt air, it's almost like we're gambling what comes up in the traps."


The Island Fishermen's Wives Association votes on who gets inducted into the Hall of Fame every year. They have to meet certain criteria, like helping other boaters in times of need.


"It's a way of honoring them for their hard work, what they've put into the fishing community, what they've taught other fellow fishermen," said Shauna Schmidt, one of the organization's co-presidents.


Some are given the honor after they've passed, like Wayne "Butch" Ciomei.


"My papa he was really brave," said Hunter Ciomei, his young grandson. "He loved going fishing and lobstering, he used to tease me sometimes and he was the best."


Event organizers said since 1994, they've welcomed more than 60 people into the Hall of Fame. That now includes Virgil Gross. His family accepted his plaque for him.


"It was amazing, it really meant a lot to me," said Debra Gross-Larrabee, his granddaughter. "I remember as a baby and a child going fishing with him."


The Island Fishermen's Wives Association honored some of their own founding members Sunday.


They said everything raised from Fishermen's Day goes back into the community.


"To fund safety courses, if a fisherman's boat has sunk we always want to be there to offer assistance," said Vickie Hardie, co-president of Island Fishermen's Wives Association.


A common thread among the event organizers, fishermen, and their families:  a respect for the ocean, and a desire to pass the trade on to the next generation.


When asked if there was anything else he wanted to add or wanted people to know, Shepard said, "tell them to take care of the ocean and it'll take care of them."


Kelly Mitchell

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Kelly Mitchell joined the news team in March of 2018. She grew up splitting her time between York, ME and Haverhill, MA, but her favorite childhood memories took place along the rocky coast of southern Maine. She's now e...

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