BRIANNA SOUKUP / PORTLAND PRESS HERALD NBC weather forecaster Al Roker and NBC anchor Craig Melvin, right, joined News Center Maine anchor Lee Nelson, far left, and meteorologist Todd Gunter in trying Moxie on News Center’s Morning Report at 6:00 a.m. The two NBC stars were filming a road trip camping segment at Sagadahoc Bay Campground for an outdoors series.


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 the “Today” show.

TV personalities Al Roker and Craig Melvin traveled up to Georgetown from Boston in an RV Monday as part of the “Today” show’s Great Outdoor Series, looking to get a taste of the New England experience. They aired footage from their adventures Tuesday morning on the show, and broadcast live from the small oceanfront campground. Just like at their New York studio, fans flocked to the campground with homemade signs hoping to get on TV.

BRIANNA SOUKUP / PORTLAND PRESS HERALD Pat Kosalka (center, wearing a blue polo), one of the owners of Sagadahoc Bay Campground, watches the Today Show segment with a group of her close friends and family. The land where the campground now sits has been in Kosalka’s husband’s family since 1722 and the two NBC stars, Melvin and Al Roker, and the NBC crew came to the site to film a road trip camping segment for a Today Show outdoors series.

“Beautiful day here in Maine,” Roker said, kicking off the segment while fishing at the campground alongside Melvin. “Little fog, but not too bad.”

Roker stated only “4 percent” of campers “think they want to come to Maine.”

“Which means 96 percent of the people are missing out,” he added.

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

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Charlie Niedner of Coplin Plantation, a small municipality near Rangeley.

“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, eventually finding their way to Sagadahoc Bay Campground, where they stayed the night.

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

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

“We always thought we’d have to go to New York to see them, though,” said Marzenell.

“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.”

Getting their name out

Local businesses also took the opportunity to get a little national exposure. While the Taste of Maine crew dominated the space — with two mascots walking around and other employees handing out Taste of Maine merchandise — other businesses were also at the campground for a chance to promote themselves.

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

BRIANNA SOUKUP / PORTLAND PRESS HERALD ‘Today Show’ stars Al Roker and Craig Melvin and their crew get ready to for a hammock shot in-between live segments of the Today Show at Sagadahoc Bay Campground in Georgetown.

“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 in the morning Tuesday providing food for the crew, Norris said. He and some of the employees even got to hang out 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 smores, 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 unprecedented reach of the “Today” show. 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.

During the live broadcast, Roker thanked local businesses including the campground, Freeport’s L.L. Bean and Georgetown’s Five Island Lobster Co.

The pre-recorded section of the segment featured the two digging for clams, while making the occasional dig at each other.

“It’s a good thing we didn’t have to rely on your catch for dinner,” Melvin said, gently jibing Roker.

“This is the only way to end the day in Maine,” Melvin said, cracking open a lobster claw at a spread that featured Maine’s signature crustacean, mussels and Eli’s root beer.

“You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Craig competitive clamming. The guy turns into a beast,” Roker said. “It’s not very pretty.”

Pros and cons

While some businesses expressed hope that an appearance on the show would draw more people to the area, other people were concerned that it 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.”

BRIANNA SOUKUP / PORTLAND PRESS HERALD Eric Kosalka, one of the owners of Sagadahoc Bay Campground, watches the live filming of the Today Show from his chair while fans take a photo with anchor Craig Melvin behind him. The land where the campground now sits has been in Kosalka’s family since 1722 and the two NBC stars, Melvin and Al Roker, and the NBC crew came to the site to film a road trip camping segment for a Today Show outdoors series.

“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 added that 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 admitted. “But it was fun.”

She added that she’d love to host the “Today” show again in the future.

“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,” said Kosalka. “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.”

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