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Updated: December 8, 2023

Maine Outdoor Brands honors trailblazers in a trailblazing industry

Kristina Cannon File photo / Tim Greenway Kristina Cannon, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan, was named the 2023 Outdoor Industry Leader of the Year by Maine Outdoor Brands.

Maine Outdoor Brands, a trade group that promotes the state's outdoor recreation economy, honored Main Street Skowhegan Executive Director Kristina Cannon and others in the 2023 Trailblazer Awards last week.

The awards, part of the second Maine Outdoor Economy Summit in Rockport, recognized leaders shaping an industry that surged 16.5% in 2022 to generate $3.3 billion in gross domestic product for the state, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

Maine Outdoor Brands is a Portland-based alliance of more than 180 members. Besides honoring Cannon as Outdoor Industry Leader of the Year, there were awards for Outdoor Innovation and Outdoor Brand Collaboration.

Cannon’s work in the outdoor industry includes project management and fundraising for the Skowhegan River Park, an initiative to redevelop the industrial Kennebec River corridor into an outdoor recreation asset for local residents and visitors alike. 

The river park will feature three whitewater rapids for paddling and surfing, a natural channel for fish passage and tubing, and improved river access. The project is currently undergoing environmental permitting, and Phase 1 construction is planned for July 2024. 

“Kristina Cannon's visionary leadership at Main Street Skowhegan has propelled the Skowhegan River Park project forward," said Jenny Kordick, executive director of Maine Outdoor Brands. "Her game-changing approach to community engagement and outdoor recreation sets an inspiring example for leaders across the state.” 

Cannon, honored on the Mainebiz Next List in 2019, has led Main Street Skowhegan for eight years. 

“Adding new recreation infrastructure and enhancing our current assets will benefit our community members while also being a huge boon for Skowhegan’s economy,” Cannon said. “With the river park, riverfront amenities and an expanded trail system, we’ll be able to host events that draw thousands of people. We also expect these assets to help attract new residents and businesses.” 

Other awards

In the other prize categories, the Outdoor Innovation Award went to Hearty Roots, for its Taproot Therapeutic Adventure Program, while the Outdoor Brand Collaboration Award went to Mahoosuc Guide Service & Penobscot Guides for its “Way of the Wabanaki” canoe trip.

File photo / Fred Field
Polly Mahoney

Polly Mahoney, a Master Maine Guide and co-founder of Mahoosuc Guide Service in Newry, was honored as a Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2021.

Maine Outdoor Brands also honored Brant & Cochran, a South Portland-based maker of artisanal axes, as its Member of the Year, a new award category this year.

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