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Sunday, July 24, 2016 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 141 Issue 27

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9/26/2012 2:00:00 PM

Toward the end of his life, Ed Myers spent a great deal of his time disguised as a kindly old man who volunteered at the South Bristol School where he would help out as needed.

By the time he got to that point, Myers had lived several lives as an environmental, civic and humanitarian activist.

His list of professional credits are much too long to detail here but the barest sketch must include mention that, in 1973, he was a founding member of the Damariscotta River Association and, in 1982, the organization that became Citizen's Offering New Alternatives (CONA).

Active in civic affairs, Myers was appointed to state committees by three different governors; served as the administrator for the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center in Walpole between 1969 and 1974, and moving to Damariscotta after WW II, he is also the guy who first came up with the idea of air mailing lobsters to far away places where folks could literally enjoy a taste of Maine in their own home state.

A recognized authority on marine resources and aquaculture issues, his testimony helped shape numerous bills considered by the state legislature. In 2001 at the age of 84, Myers was the keynote speaker at the World Aquaculture Federation Convention in Orlando, Fla.

For all that, one of Myers' lasting gifts to the world was developing the concept that it was possible to cultivate shellfish the way one might grow a garden; from seed to harvest to market.

In 1973, Myers founded Abandoned Farm, the first mussel aquaculture operation in North America. Managing the business between 1974 and the mid-1990s, Myers modified techniques originally developed in Europe.

Along the way, Myers received the state's first ever aquaculture lease, granting him rights to a section of Clark's Cove on the Damariscotta River.

Myers' business plan wasn't necessarily a rousing financial success, but someone had to go first and by virtue of doing so, he literally pioneered the industry that Mook Sea Farms Inc., The Pemaquid Oyster Co., and others continue to refine to this day.

Myers turned his experience into wisdom, which he doled out like pearls to those who followed. He was a groundbreaking and inspirational figure and remains so to this day to those who knew him or benefited from his wisdom.

So it is good and right that in the 10 years since his death at the age of 85 in 2002, the organizers and volunteers of the Pemaquid Oyster Festival have dedicated their efforts to the Edward A. Myers Marine Conservation Fund. The fund has, in turn, supported local students and businesses.

Now in its 12th year, the reconstituted Pemaquid Oyster Festival has become one of those reliable seasonal markers on the calendar, in the way Olde Bristol Days underscores the arrival of August and the approaching end of summer.

In recent years the Oyster Festival appears to have been overshadowed by the latest, loudest new kid on the block, the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest.

In fact, this year the beginning of the week-long revelry in all things pumpkin, Sept. 29, overlaps the one day Oyster Festival, held at Schooner Landing in Damariscotta Sept. 30.

That's a shame.

The Oyster Festival is packed full of fun and educational exhibits, local vendors, loads of delicious oysters and the auditory pleasures provided by some of the finest musicians in the state.

The festival's charming penchant for attracting lousy weather aside, it literally doesn't get much better than this. You should go.

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