Concerns over the coronavirus has prompted the rescheduling of Alaska’s longest running fisheries trade show.
The 41st annual ComFish Alaska, hosted by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, will be held in mid-September instead of later this month.
KMXT’s Maggie Wall spoke with Chamber Executive Director Sarah Phillips Wednesday night about the change of dates.
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“So Maggie, as you know, ComFish 2020 has not been canceled. It is rescheduled for September 17 through the 19th.
“Naturally, we’re going to have all the same things that we’ve been looking forward to this year–the fisheries themed fashion show, the rockfish, taco feed, the presenters, the forums, all of our exhibitors, we’re still going to have all of that that we were planning for, for March. We’re still going to have that in September so everyone can still look forward to the same great show.
Wall: What was the date?
Phillips: September 17 through the 19th. And the reason we arrived at that date was the Fish Committee got together and said, ‘Okay, what are the fishing seasons we want to make sure we avoid,’ because obviously it doesn’t make sense to have ComFish Alaska in the middle of a fishing season. So we suspect that the salmon fishing season will be done by then, and we won’t have any other seasons that have started.
“Then naturally, we also have to make sure that our venues are still available, our staff is still available. And then we actually have decorations shipped over from mainland Alaska. And we had to make sure that those were all going to be available. So a lot of moving parts but all came together early this afternoon.
Wall: “Speaking of shipping, one of your concerns was you wanted to make the decision in time for the exhibitors to not ship their things ahead. They don’t just suddenly show up here they have to make plans in advance to get their things here.”
Philips: “That’s exactly right. So much planning goes into ComFish, Alaska. So today, really by Friday, is when I had set the deadline in my head that I had to let all of my exhibitors know who are shipping engines over and pallets of products and merchandising goods.
“They all start shipping those things very, very early. And so the way that shipping schedules work, we needed to be able to notify them as early as possible. And so today happens to be that day.”
Wall: “And what was the tipping point? We had talked to you on ‘Talk of the Rock’ on Tuesday, which was Tuesday, just yesterday, as we were speaking on Wednesday evening, you had mentioned that that was a possibility. And you were just going to kind of take it as it went. What changed?”
Phillips: “Yeah, I’m glad you asked. So really, the biggest change is that Governor Dunleavy as you know, declared a state of emergency today, Wednesday. And that is a huge, you know, concern for us. We obviously want to be able to take care of our residents here in Kodiak and not subject anyone to unnecessary travel or difficult choices that’s coming in from the mainland or the Lower 48.
“The other concern, that came out today was the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. Now, obviously, when those two things are announced in conjunction with each other, anyone planning a large scale event like this has to do a little bit of a double take. And so just out of an abundance of caution, and knowing that we can still reproduce the show with amazing results in September, we decided to go ahead and move forward with rescheduling.”
Wall: “That sounds good. Thank you for letting us know. And thank you for calling in. So September 17, through 19th will be ComFish?”
Phillips: “That’s right. That’s right.”
Wall: “It’ll be different, but it’ll be an adventure.”
Phillips: “That’s exactly right. And you know, all the people coming from the Lower 48 and mainland Alaska will get their chance at seeing Kodiak and all its glorious summer splendor.
That was KMXT’s Maggie Wall speaking with Chamber Executive Director Sarah Phillips last night about yesterday’s decision to reschedule ComFish Alaska 2020 to Sept. 17 through 19.