Wet and windy Salmon Days

October 7, 2008

By Jim Feehan

Better Sunday weather saves the day

 Salmon Days Festival visitors try to keep dry and keep their umbrellas intact Saturday as they brave the rain and gusty winds to visit crafts booths on Front Street North.By Greg Farrar

Salmon Days Festival visitors try to keep dry and keep their umbrellas intact Saturday as they brave the rain and gusty winds to visit crafts booths on Front Street North.By Greg Farrar

A heavy downpour and blustery weather put a damper on attendance Saturday at this year’s Salmon Day festival, but the skies cleared up Sunday, much to the delight of organizers.

“It can rain cats and dogs and we’ll still come to Issaquah for Salmon Days,” said John McNally, of Seattle. “This is a can’t-miss festival in Western Washington.”

The rain and wind kicked in shortly after the parade concluded Saturday.

Thousands of people packed downtown Issaquah to catch the parade, tour arts and crafts booths, listen to local bands and eat during the 39th annual festival. Police estimated between 125,000 and 150,000 people visited the two-day event, with twice as many people attending the event Sunday than Saturday.

Issaquah Police Cmdr. Scott Behrbaum said police had few calls for service during the two-day event. However, sometime between late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, a thief stole several jewelry items from a vendor in the 100 block of Front Street North, Behrbaum said. A dollar amount was not yet available, because the inventory was still being assessed, he said.

Saturday’s inclement weather didn’t deter Mark Davis, of Edmonton, Alberta, from visiting the fish hatchery.

“It’s amazing how the salmon return here,” he said. “It’s also a great excuse to hold a festival.”

Sunday was overcast but otherwise pleasant compared to the blustery first day of Salmon Days. Wind that blew hard in the afternoon Saturday knocked down small tents, blew over signs and wreaked havoc in vendor booths that held delicate items.

After setting up booths from Thursday to the wee hours of Saturday morning, that wind kept the Salmon Days Tech Team busy retrieving windblown signs and banners.

“It got so bad, we brought in two pallet loads of sandbags to hold down some of the booths,” said Greg Spranger, of the Tech Team. “It was painstaking work and quite intense, but I have to hand it to our stellar volunteers.”

The parade featured 14 floats and marching bands from Liberty, Skyline, Issaquah and Highline high schools, as well as a marching band from Evergreen Junior High School in Redmond.

Amy Conom, of Bothell, was looking forward to the parade. Nearly 20 years ago, Conom was a member of the Liberty High School drill team.

“I return for the nostalgia and for seeing all of my friends at Salmon Days,” she said.

Cherie Williams, of Issaquah, said the festival has grown over the years.

“There was a time when the sports teams would ride on a flatbed trailer for the parade,” she said. “Now, we have floats.”

Robin Kelley, director of festivals, said Saturday’s weather posed a few challenges.

“We’re used to the rain, but the wind made it interesting,” she said. “A lot of folks waited until Sunday to come to Salmon Days. Vendors said their business Sunday made up for slow sales on Saturday.”

Weather withstanding, Festival Chairwoman Eileen Barber said she was pleased with attendance.

“Saturday’s weather was salmon friendly,” she said. “It’s fun to look out and see Northwesterners get dressed up for the rain and enjoy the festival. Also, I heard from many vendors who said sales on Sunday were brisk.”

Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6434, ext. 239, or jfeehan@isspress.com.

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