The Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Year in Review Awards Gala took place at the Samoset Resort on Friday, February 10, 2023. More than 250 Chamber member businesses, elected officials, and local community representatives were in attendance. The Year in Review Awards Gala was an opportunity to recognize those who have made extraordinary contributions to our community in the past year.
All award recipients, except for Community Person of the Year, had been announced at an earlier date. The top award of the evening, the coveted Community Person of the Year Award, was presented to Captain Jim Sharp of Camden. Click here to watch the video award presentation
The Community Person of the Year Award is awarded to an individual, who, through their professional and civic deeds, has greatly enhanced the quality of life in our community. At 89 years old, Captain Jim Sharp not only helps share our Midcoast maritime history with others, but he clearly is also part of that history. His impact on the tourism industry has been immeasurable; from building the Windjammer Trade in Camden to creating the 5-star rated Sail, Power & Steam Museum in Rockland. His story telling has captivated thousands of tourists and locals alike as they learn about the maritime and industrial culture and heritage of Maine and beyond the horizon. Jim’s first schooner trip was aboard an old Gloucester Fishing Schooner out of Camden harbor. He was 24 years old and while he didn’t realize it at the time, this trip was the start of the decades long love affair with the Schooner Adventure which he would eventually own and captain. Jim started his Windjamming career in 1963 when he was hired as “Mate” aboard the Schooner Mattie (now the Grace Bailey). From there, he went on to purchase the Stephen Taber and began taking passengers on his own vessel, showing them the wonders of the Maine Coast. Eventually owning “Sharp’s Wharf” in Camden, Jim added boats to his fleet such as the Adventure, the Roseway and the Arctic Schooner, Bowdoin. Jim and his wife Meg’s collection of maritime and industrial history forms the basis of the Sail, Power & Steam Museum in Rockland.
Congratulations to the following individuals, businesses and organizations that were celebrated as the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Year in Review Award Winners:
Small Business of the Year – Graffam Bros. Seafood Market
This award is given to a business of fewer than 25 employees that has been in business for at least five years, that is recognized as a leader in their field, and that makes a positive contribution to communities in the Camden-Rockland region.
Graffam Bros. Seafood Market’s reputation for providing high-quality, ocean-fresh seafood brought requests from customers for a place to order cooked meals. Building on the values instilled in them through generations of being family-owned, they are committed to providing friendly, prompt service along with the best seafood you’ll find anywhere. Graffam Bros. Seafood recently celebrated 75 years in business, another testament to their quality. Click here to watch the video award presentation
Environmental Leader Award – Georges River Land Trust
This award recognizes a person, business, or organization that has worked diligently to preserve/protect/enhance our environment and works in a manner compatible with the environment, using sustainable practices.
Georges River Land Trust’s mission is to conserve the ecosystems and traditional heritage of the Georges River watershed region through permanent land protection, stewardship, education, and outdoor experiences. Midcoast Maine’s 225-square-mile Georges River watershed is a unique and historic area of mountains, sea coast, lakes, tidal streams and inlets through which the beautiful Georges River flows. The watershed extends from Montville in Waldo County to Port Clyde in Knox County where the 51-mile-long river flows into Muscongus Bay. Click here to watch the video award presentation
Innovation in Business Award – Steel House
This award recognizes a business or organization that produces advancements in a product or business method that has resulted in renewed economic vitality of its business or the local community. The recipient demonstrates a proactive and innovative approach toward finding solutions to business challenges and embraces change as an opportunity for growth.
Steel House is a co-working space that provides an active community environment for artists, designers, creatives and small businesses. Along with their oceanfront workspaces and fantastic amenities, they provide unique opportunities to engage with their spaces and programming. Their programs include exhibitions through their gallery, adult classes and workshops, lectures and special events. Steel House is proud to provide design and technology services and produces original products and objects for sale to the public. Click here to watch the video award presentation
Beacon Award – Studio JBone (El Faro Salute!)
Awarded to a person, business or organization that has attracted significant positive regional or national attention to the Penobscot Bay region, resulting in a rise in local economic activity.
It is appropriate that Rockland, Maine is home to El Faro Salute!, which is prominently sited along the Rockland Harbor Trail in the South End of the Arts Capital of Maine. Of the 33 crew members aboard the El Faro, four lived in Maine and Rockland was home to two of them. This region has a rich maritime heritage and strong maritime community that is well represented by scores of Maine Maritime Academy Alumni. El Faro is Spanish for “the lighthouse” and Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse provides a fitting backdrop for the installation, along with beautiful Penobscot Bay.
Like five crew members of the El Faro, Jay Sawyer is a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and earlier in life had an ocean going career as a Marine Engineer. Much like Rockland, Maine, Sawyer has seen a transition since his shipping career to a livelihood rich with culture. Since his first solo show in 2007, the artist known as JBONE has experienced much success with sales of art and recognition for his track record of successful long-term, site-specific public art installations around Maine and beyond. His outdoor studio, known as Studio JBONE is a powerful creative environment that has been visited by thousands of people from around the world. Click here to watch the video award presentation
Once again, the Chamber presented Milestone Anniversary Awards to member businesses and organizations celebrating anniversaries in 25-year increments in 2023. Honorees celebrating 25 years include Bartlett Woods and WanderWoman Tours. Celebrating 50 years in 2023 are Project Puffin, Maine Media and Wayfinder Schools. Celebrating 75 years is the Farnsworth Art Museum. The Strand Theatre was recognized for celebrating 100 years in operation.
All of the evening’s awards were created by Rob Jones of Wooden Alchemy in Camden. Gala photography was provided by Carol Miller Photography of Rockland. Award videos were created by Lang Sheppard of Stunt Dog Productions with direction from John Viehman of Rockport. The evening also included a social hour with musical accompaniment provided by students of Midcoast Music Academy, hors d’oeuvres and cash bar followed by a plated dinner served by the Samoset staff.
Several businesses provided sponsorship support for the Gala: Camden National Bank (Lead sponsor), Eaton Peabody (Social Hour sponsor). Honoree sponsors included Ken Gardiner – Edward Jones, Camden and First National Bank. Supporting Sponsors were Allen Insurance and Financial, Bangor Savings Bank, Cates Real Estate, Eastern Tire, Farnsworth Art Museum, Georges River Land Trust, Graffam Bros. Seafood Market, Heal Accounting, Machias Savings Bank, Maritime Energy, Steel House and the Samoset Resort.
In addition, twenty-six member businesses and organizations each decorated a table complete with ten place settings and a centerpiece that was raffled off during the event, which made for a very festive atmosphere at the Chamber’s largest networking event of the year.
The Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce serves as a primary business conduit for the Camden-Rockland Region, which encompasses 27 municipalities within and surrounding Knox County. The Chamber provides a variety of platforms and opportunities for close to 750 business and non-profit members to promote themselves to residents and visitors to the region. To learn more, visit https://penbaychamber.com/.