Salmon Days named top festival in Washington
March 16, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
For the second consecutive year, the Salmon Days Festival reeled in — pardon the puns — a boatload of awards, including the top festival honor in the state, event organizers announced last week.
Salmon Days earned eight Summit Awards from the Washington Festivals and Events Association, a group dedicated to promoting activities throughout the Evergreen State. The group announced the honorees March 9 at a conference held in Seaside, Ore.
Salmon Days hauled in a first-place Gold Summit Award in the highest category at the conference: Best Overall Promotional Campaign. Honorees receive the award for outstanding promotion, including marketing, media and merchandising.
Robin Kelley, festivals director at the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and the chief Salmon Days organizer, said she and her team could not wait to share the award with community members.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have people appreciate the hard work that so many people here do,” she said.
In all, Salmon Days received four first-place Gold Summit Awards, two second-place Silver Summit Awards and two third-place Bronze Summit Awards within the $150,000 and more budget category. Salmon Days had a budget of about $450,000 last year.
The top-most competition tier also includes the likes of Bumbershoot, Bite of Seattle and Fremont Oktoberfest — festivals with bigger budgets and wall-to-wall promotion.
Organizers emphasized the long history of Salmon Days with the 2009 event theme — “Celebrating 40 Years of Great Returns. Still fresh. Still fun. Still free.”
Among the first-place awards, Salmon Days also won for Best Community Service Program, Best Merchandise Item and Best Sportswear Item for a black jacket emblazoned with the festival logo.
The festival earned second-place awards for Best Souvenir Pin and Best T-shirt Design, for a children’s T-shirt featuring a watercolor fish and the words, “If fishes were wishes.”
Organizers netted third-place honors for Best Website and the Best Newspaper Insert — the Ohfishal 2009 Festival Program published by The Issaquah Press.
“Issaquah Salmon Days is one of the region’s premier festivals, educating thousands of people about the local environment while celebrating all that the city of Issaquah has to offer,” Issaquah Chamber of Commerce Chairman Chris Hysom said in a news release.
The chamber presents Salmon Days. Festival organizers submitted entries based on the chamber campaign and designed by Robin Dale Spicer — a longtime designer of Salmon Days themes — to the Washington Festivals and Events Association.
Kelley credited Spicer for creating a theme and then carrying graphic touches through Salmon Days promotional items and merchandise.
“She makes sure these all complement each other and have the same look and feel,” Kelley said.
The awards competition attracts entries from festivals and event producers from across the state. The competition recognizes people in the industry who work to improve the quality and image of festivals and special events in the eyes of the community and the news media. Salmon Days earned seven awards from the organization for the 2008 festival.
More than 180,000 people attended the 2009 festival during the sunny weekend of Oct. 3-4.
“Salmon Days also serves a vital economic development role by shining the spotlight on Issaquah’s businesses, restaurants, artisans, recreation opportunities and entertainers,” Hysom continued. “Congratulations to festival staff and their volunteers on this important recognition from WFEA.”
Sponsors — or spawnsors in Salmon Days lingo — for the ’09 event included Snoqualmie Casino, Overlake Hospital Medical Center, Microsoft and Issaquah-based Costco. More than 70 businesses sponsored free activities for festival attendees. Dozens of local nonprofits also raised money at the festival.
In addition to statewide attention, the festival received international honors last year, when judges at a worldwide festival association ranked the 2008 Salmon Days as the premier festival in the world.
The event received the prestigious Grande Pinnacle Award for Best Overall Festival Presentation during the International Festivals & Events Association awards ceremony last September.
Salmon Days won seven awards in the category for events with budgets between $250,000 and $749,000.
Organizers will submit the entry packet for the 2009 festival by June. Winners will be announced at a September conference in St. Louis.
The next Salmon Days will be held Oct. 2-3. Organizers will announce a theme for the fish-centric festival by late spring. Kelley said the festival team had yet to decide on a theme. Spicer will again design the Salmon Days emblem.
Pauline Middlehurst, spawnsor and public relations manager for the festival office, said in addition to organizers, sponsors, vendors, volunteers, performers and attendees made the event successful.
“We would like to thank everybody that contributed to be a part of Salmon Days,” she said.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.