Wakulla's Working Waterfronts

Wakulla's Working Waterfronts

written by Herb Donaldson

 

It’s an exciting time for Wakulla’s Working Waterfronts Photo Project.

‘Waterfronts’, which began in 2012, received a grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs last September. The project utilized the talent of local photographers to capture forty-five photos that, as a collective, told the overarching story of Wakulla’s maritime and seafood heritage.

The photographers chosen to participate in the project included Mickey Cantner, Mark Wallheiser, Lynda Kinsey, JoAnn Palmer, and Katie Deal.
 
Almost two years ago, articles by local writers began circulating online and throughout the area newspaper, The Wakulla News, in search of residents that were willing to tell their stories of fishing, family, and seafood. 

The Wakulla Sunday Radio Program produced radio episodes on WAVE 94.1 that highlighted those in the area known for their work within the seafood industry.
 
Early interviews included residents such as Noah Posey (owner of Posey’s Up the Creek Steam Room and Oyster Bar); Leo Lovel (owner of Spring Creek Restaurant); Bill Lowrie (known for his work with the Big Bend Maritime Museum, and the annual Worm Gruntin’ Festival in Sopchoppy); family members from the now extinct fishing community of Skipper’s Bay; and Sopchoppy resident, Donnie Crum, whose personal interest in capturing the history of his friends and neighbors – many of them fishermen – was the initial inspiration behind the ‘Waterfronts’ project.
 
Throughout a span of five months, photographers met with fishermen as they loaded their boats and prepared to set-sail during the pre-dawn hours. They met with restaurant owners, photographed workers at crab-picking and seafood processing plants, and made pilgrimages through lonely back-road areas where boat-building, trap-making, worm-grunting, and more took place.

families

The beauty of the work, the dedication of the workers, and seeing firsthand how one area of the industry could possibly affect the others, was not lost on those who standing behind the camera.

The photographers quickly found that the most compelling aspect of the project were the stories that the workers shared. Many spoke of their family members who had worked within the county’s seafood industry for at least three generations, if not more. Those discussions of family histories, combined with the hopes these residents held regarding the industry and its impact on future generations, are what inspired the Waterfronts Oral Histories Project that will resume later this year.

Wakulla’s Working Waterfronts Photo Project held its public debut in April at Wakulla’s One Stop Community Center. In May it traveled to the 40th Annual Blue Crab Festival, held at Woolley Park, in Panacea.

Later that month the exhibit received an opening at the Lively Technical Institute in Tallahassee. This was of particular importance due to the aspiring photographers that were students in Lively’s Commercial Photography Program, led by acclaimed and internationally published photographer, Russell Grace. Mr. Grace and his students printed, mounted, and hand-framed each picture that now stands in the current exhibit.

In July, ‘Waterfronts’ continued its journey along the coast and was mounted for display at the Apalachicola Center of Culture, History, and Art, in Franklin County. It will remain at this location until mid-August when it returns to Wakulla. A tentative exhibit opening date of Sunday, August 24th, has been set for ‘Waterfronts’ at the Wakulla Welcome Center in Panacea.