The Maine Historical Society is recognizing five innovators in Maine's food scene. Credit: Courtesy of Rosalind Morga | Houlton Pioneer Times

Maine innovators in food processing, business and production will be honored next month by the Maine Historical Society.

The Maine History Maker Awards are given to an economic or business trailblazer in the state, according to Elaine Tselikis, communications manager with the Maine Historical Society.

This year the society decided to honor five separate individuals and businesses who have made an impact on the state’s food economy.

“The Maine Historical Society this year decided to select five honorees who have been quite prominent in the area of food,” Tselikis said. “For generations Maine has been at the forefront in the evolution of food production and processing in areas like potatoes, lobster, blueberries and canning.”

This year’s honorees, she said, are the embodiment of the living history behind Maine’s food industry.

Receiving a Maine History Maker award this year include the following:

— The Barber Family, founders of Barber Foods based in Portland. The company started as a meat shop in 1955 with a commitment to the environment and sustainability. Today Barber Foods is part of the national brand Tyson supplying fresh, premade entrees nationwide.

— Sam Hayward, owner-chef of Portland’s Fore Street Restaurant and longtime advocate of local Maine ingredients.

— David Geary, founder of D.L. Geary Brewing Company and credited with starting the microbrewery boom in Maine.

— The O’Hara Corporation, based in Rockland with a full-service marina and fishing vessels working ocean waters from Maine to Alaska.

— Smith Farm in Mars Hill where for five generations the Smith family has produced potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and other crops shipped around the country.

“Our Maine History Maker Award recognizes innovation and leadership that have defined Maine throughout its history,” Steve Bromage, executive director of the Maine Historical Society, said. “This year’s five honorees carry forward Maine’s heritage of leadership in the food industry which dates back centuries — from when our merchants, shipbuilders and fishermen began serving international markets, to Mainers’ invention of the canning industry, and the emergence of lobsters, blueberries and whoopie pies as iconic Maine foods.”

The awards will be presented at a reception starting at 5 p.m. Nov. 13 at University of New England’s Innovation Hall.

In addition to the awards presentation, there will be panel discussion with the honorees.

Tickets for the event are $50 and available online at or by calling 207-774-1822.

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.