In 1980, the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce established a marine trades fair in conjunction with the annual Crab Festival. Held in a borrowed large National Guard wall tent, the show idea was well received by the public and potential exhibitors. The following year, the National Guard Armory was moved and was a featured event of Crab Festival. In 1982, the date of the show was moved to March. The Armory accommodated 33-8’ x 10’ booths. Professionally decorated by Rowan Event Services of Seattle, the show, now known as the Alaska Fisheries and Marine Trades Show, soon outgrew the available space in the National Guard Armory. In 1983, a portable tent structure was added to the back of the Armory, and the show grew to 44 booths. In 1986, the show moved to facilities owned by Alaska Transfer and Storage and offered space for the show to grow that was not available in the Armory. In 1986, there were 26-10’ x 10’ booths and a variety of boats on trailers. In 1987, we had managed to grow the booth sales to 40 booths, and the Chamber was convinced that they should make plans to attend Fish Expo in Seattle to attempt to sell additional booth space. We were very successful at that attempt, and in 1988, the show was set at 80 booths. In 1989, we put up a 60’ x 90’ outdoor wall tent, and the show was now at 133 booths.
Ownership of Alaska Transfer and Storage felt we outstripped their ability to provide space for the show. After negotiations with the U. S. Coast Guard, we were allowed to use space in Hangar III on the U. S. Coast Guard Base Kodiak. In 1990, we set 150 booths, with the show topping out at 167 booths in 1992. Subsequent years have seen show size hover in the neighborhood of 130 booths.
The U. S. Coast Guard Air Station informed the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce that Hangar III would not be available for the ComFish Alaska 2003 show. The Board of directors decided to move the show to the Kodiak High School was held from 2003-2008. Exhibitor booths during these years fluctuated wildly between 40-70 booths in attendance. To select more relevant dates for the commercial fishing industry that no longer needed to contend with the Spring Break schedule at the High School, ComFish Alaska moved to the Best Western Convention Center in 2009.
The show is still held at the Best Western Convention Center, with forums held at the Best Western Harbor Room across the street. There is now space for 43 exhibitor booth spaces, and it generally sells out a month before the show. Within the hearts of the community, ComFish Alaska is still a memorable and relevant event.