As the wind whipped snow into drifts along Summer Street, few ventured out in the Seaport District on Tuesday.
Except for the fish people.
They persisted, like salmon swimming upstream, flooding the floor of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Tuesday for the last day of the annual Seafood Expo.
It was a bit disorienting: a whiteout outside, while indoors, ocean waves and sunshine filled large video screens. Scantily clad showgirls offered samples of smoked salmon and grilled octopus on toothpicks. International fish saleswomen and men, dressed in slick suits, traded business cards as they dug into tiny portions of mango habanero cod fillets.
Any visible ice was covered in bug-eyed rockfish or displays of oysters. The convention floor smelled like a fish shack on a balmy afternoon.
More than 1,340 exhibitors from more than 57 countries were in town for the annual seafood showcase, considered North America’s largest, some traveling from as far as Fiji, Oman, Ukraine, and Venezuela. And because many had flights canceled due to Tuesday’s blizzard, the crowds were heavier on the third day of the conference than many anticipated.
“I’m coming from Miami so I should be the most affected, but it’s fine,” said Moises Delrio, the general manager of Verlasso Seafood, the premium brand of Chilean-based seafood distributor AquaChile. “For us, spending a few extra days here in Boston is great. We get to visit our clients here and do a bit of [a] tour through the restaurants.”
For Tyson Yeck, the director of North American sales for Pacific Seafood, his delayed flight back to Portland, Ore., was hardly worth fretting over. “We have perspective on it. Because hey, if you’re stuck in Dutch Harbor or Kodiak Island or you’re working out on the Bering Sea, it’s a part of life. Most of us are pretty adaptable — that’s what’s beautiful about the seafood business.”
If anything, the blizzard in Boston gave him more time to reel in clients. “I’ve got a few on the hook right now, and a couple on ice back home,” he joked.
Barb Park, the owner of Cedar Bay Grilling Co., shrugged off the storm as she served samples of cedar plank salmon. “We’re used to this kind of weather. We’re from Nova Scotia — it’s normal for us,” she said. “Other than my makeup being a mess on the way in, we’re fine.”
Convention planners said that March is a tough month, weather-wise, for big events, but that having a strategy to communicate with attendees typically helps things run smoothly.
“I was standing looking out the window and I saw taxis dropping people off and nobody leaving,” said Mary Larkin, the executive vice president of Diversified Communications, the Portland, Maine, group that put on the event.
It’s also a source of pride for the city to be able to pull off big events during snowstorms. Lisa Deveney, the vice president for meeting and events at the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that after the 2015 “Snowpocalypse,” the bureau unveiled a “Boston Bring It On” marketing campaign to lure outsiders to the city during winter.
“We have the equipment and intelligence to handle it,” she said.
Correction: An earlier version of the story misspelled the name of Tyson Yeck.Janelle Nanos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.