GEORGETOWN — Sagadahoc Bay Campground in Georgetown was a flurry of activity Tuesday morning as dozens of people descended on the sleepy town to see a live segment of NBC’s “Today” show.

“Today” personalities Al Roker and Craig Melvin traveled in an RV Monday from Boston to Georgetown as part of the show’s Great Outdoor Series, looking to get a taste of the New England experience. They aired footage from their adventures Tuesday morning on “Today,” broadcasting live from the small oceanfront campground.

Just as people do outside the show’s New York studio, fans flocked to the campground with homemade signs and other gimmicks, hoping to get on TV. The Taste of Maine restaurant from Woolwich was there in force, with two mascots walking around, while others put Taste of Maine merchandise in any empty hand to get the restaurant’s name out.

For some Mainers, the visit offered a chance of fulfilling a lifelong dream to be on “Today” without traveling to New York City.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Charlie Niedner of Coplin Plantation in Franklin County.

“My friend saw it on the news yesterday morning. Here we are almost in Rangeley and she’s like, ‘Charlie, we’ve got to go to that. We’ll leave at three in the morning,’ ” recalled Niedner. “I said, ‘No, let’s go now!’ ”


The pair opted to drive down Monday and found their way to Sagadahoc Bay Campground, where they stayed the night.

“It’s all about Al Roker. This will make her summer. She’s just such an Al Roker fan,” Niedner said of his travel partner.

Others didn’t have to travel quite so far to see the live broadcast. Sam Marzenell and Gina Bergeron of Bath took a break from their wedding planning to be there. The couple are getting married Sunday, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to see the “Today” stars in Georgetown.

Among those hoping to stand out in the crowd Tuesday morning during the “Today” show live taping at Sagadahoc Bay Campground in Georgetown was Valerie Crooker, who dressed up as a lobster representing the Taste of Maine restaurant.

“Even if we don’t get on TV, I want to see Al Roker. He’s a legend,” said Bergeron. “It’s pretty cool to even just say we were here. I don’t need them to say hi to us, I just need to be near him.”

For Matt Norris of Sarah’s Cafe in Wiscasset, getting the family business on TV was a unique opportunity.

“My mother, she’s been working for 38 years at this and we’ve never had a TV camera in our restaurant,” said Norris. “We’ve had famous people come in and sign our menus and things like that, but we’ve never been on a national television screen. For my mother to get that recognition would make it all worth it. They just have to say our name or show our logo.”


Sarah’s Cafe had been at the campground the day before and since 3 a.m. Tuesday providing food for the crew, Norris said. He and some of the employees even got to spend time with Roker on Monday evening, before the cameras were rolling.

“We ended up doing a mock photo shoot with them last night and hung out with Al Roker by the fire and had s’mores, kind of like an informal thing,” Norris said. “It’s like, you’ve been seeing him on TV growing up your whole life and then he’s just here hanging out on your home island. It was kind of surreal in a way.”

Other businesses also looked to capitalize on the extensive reach of the “Today” show. While the Taste of Maine crew dominated the space, other businesses were also at the campground for a chance to promote themselves. Five Islands Farm rented out a campsite near the action, and a few people from The Blue Lobster gift shop in Portland drove up that morning with handmade signs showing Roker and Melvin wearing Blue Lobster merchandise.

For some Mainers, the visit by Al Roker, above, and his production crew offered a chance of fulfilling a lifelong dream to be on “Today” without traveling to New York City.

While some businesses hoped that an appearance on the show would draw more people to the area, others expressed concern over anything that could change the quiet way of life in Georgetown.

“I’ve had that conversation numerous times, people saying, ‘I don’t want people to know how good it is here,’ ” said Carlos Barrionuevo, who runs the Robinhood Free Meetinghouse in Georgetown. “I’m biased, because as a business owner I’m happy to have a little more recognition for Georgetown, but I don’t think Georgetown needs to be put on the map.”

“We’re happy to be kind of off the beaten path,” said Norris. “We’re happy to be a destination people visit and then leave. We’re happy with it, but this attention could be good for a little town like this. Our revenue is pretty much lobstering … and that’s about it. So to get some businesses into these towns could be good.”


Barrionuevo said the broadcast would be a great way to show friends and family what attracted him to Georgetown in the first place.

“This segment will live forever on the internet, which is cool,” he said. It’s one of those things you can show all your friends: ‘Oh, so you don’t know what Georgetown is or you don’t know why we live here – here you go.’ ”

As the broadcast ended and the crowd began to disperse, campground owner Patricia Kosalka finally got a chance to catch her breath.

“It was more chaotic than I thought it would be,” she said. “But it was fun.”

Kosalka said she’d love to host the “Today” show again.

“They were wonderful to everybody. I think everyone had a good time, and I really think that Craig and Al had a good time, so we’re pleased,” she said. “It was exciting to watch it. I’m glad I was here, and I’m glad I got a chance to go clamming with Al.”

Nathan Strout can be contacted at:

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