CAMDEN, Maine — Bill Richardson — a former New Mexico governor, U.S. Secretary of Energy and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations — will be the keynote speaker for the 25th annual Camden Conference that kicks off Friday night, Feb. 17.

This year’s conference is “The U.S. in a 21st Century World: Do We Have What it Takes?”

The main venue for the conference is the Camden Opera House but the conference also will be broadcast live at three remote venues, noted Jim Matlack who is chair of the event’s program committee. He said tickets for the Camden Opera House have been sold out but there are tickets available at the remote venues of The Strand Theatre in Rockland, the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, and the Grand in Ellsworth.

Matlack said Richardson was the ideal person to be this year’s keynote speaker.

“He has a quite remarkable range of service, both domestic and foreign,” Matlack said.

The Camden conference is able to attract such speakers he said from its successful track record. Getting speakers is a marathon effort and is accomplished by making both a formal request through the conference but also the use of intermediaries who know the speakers personally.

He noted that the goal of the people who started the Camden Conference and what continues today is to inform and stimulate the community about global issues.

He said that about 10 days after the conference concludes, all conference events will be available on the volunteer organization’s website

The conference kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday at the Camden Opera House with the welcoming address by Conference President Bob Hirsch. Richardson will speak at 8:10 p.m. The Opera House holds about 500 people, with about 100 seats reserved for college students.

Former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont, who is billed as a journalist and economic consultant, will speak Saturday morning at 8:45 a.m.

A full schedule of the weekend events is on the Camden Conference’s website. The conference will conclude at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19.