BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- A 'Welcome to Kitsap County' fair was held Jan. 15 for the crew and families of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in order to acquaint them with their new home at Naval Base Kitsap.
The fair was held in the pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, and featured more than 130 local organizations and vendors for Sailors to browse and learn what the area has to offer.
"It's a one-stop-shop for Sailors and their families to come get information on just about anything they'd want to know about our new home," said Stennis Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Terry Etherton.
Etherton said there was a good turnout despite the holiday weekend and the less-than-favorable weather.
Stennis Sailors and families enjoyed free food, drinks and door prizes offered at the fair.
"We want the crew and their families to leave the fair feeling like they've lived here their whole life," said Frank Gentile, operations manager for the Kitsap County Chamber of Commerce. "We knew Sailors were coming from a big city and didn't want them to feel like their new home had any less to offer."
The aircraft carrier shifted home port from San Diego to Bremerton Jan. 8. More than 3,000 Sailors accompanied the ship and now live in the area.
According to Gentile, who was in charge of organizing the fair, more than 40 organizations, including local chambers of commerce, family services and Girl Scouts, have volunteered time since last January to organize the fair for Stennis.
"This event is just amazing. The county has really gone to great lengths to welcome us home," said Commanding Officer Capt. David Buss. "We look forward to establishing and fostering strong friendships, and being active members of the community."
"I think the fair is going to help us feel more comfortable in our new home," said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class David Smith, Combat Systems Department aboard Stennis.
Smith attended the fair with his wife and two daughters, who all seemed to enjoy the event.
"I'm quite impressed with the fair, and I feel it shows a lot for the community and its dedication to its new Navy addition," said Amber Smith. "So far, our family has felt very welcome in Bremerton."
Stennis Sailors and families have been moving to the area since last summer. However, many families made the move with the ship three weeks ago.
"Our main goal was to speed up the process of settling into a new area for Stennis' Sailors and to get them as comfortable as possible being here by the time they left," said Gentile. "I think we accomplished much more than that."
For related news, visit the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn74.