Salmon Days leaves memories
October 5, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
Like the fish at the center of the Salmon Days Festival, Issaquah residents and out-of-towners returned Oct. 2-3 to pack the cordoned-off downtown to browse booths loaded with artwork and snacks.
Salmon Days attracted more than 180,000 people to downtown Issaquah under gray skies and in cool, early fall temperatures to a celebration of the annual salmon migration.
Meet some of the attendees, merchants and salmon hatchery docents, and relive the 41st year of the festival.
Salmon, the reason for the season
Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery docents field innumerable questions during Salmon Days. Some of the queries, docents recalled, related to the titular fish.
The other popular request: directions to the restroom.
Master Docent Kevin Boze has answered countless salmon-related — and unrelated — questions during 12 years as a hatchery guide. Salmon Days, he said, is a crucial outreach opportunity.
“It’s a great opportunity to talk to people about these fish and why they’re so important to us,” he said.
BethElLee Herrmann, a recent addition to the docent team, agreed. The oceanography student reflected on the role salmon play in the Puget Sound ecosystem.
“If our salmon don’t come back, then our orcas are going to suffer,” she said.
Boze said although the jumping fish fascinate children, adult festivalgoers become fascinated by salmon biology and the inborn desire of the fish to return to Issaquah Creek to spawn
“To the average person,” he said, “they seem to be able to do the impossible.”
Good eats fuel festivalgoers
The impenetrable clouds and chill fueled a hunger for the starchy offerings at Kaleenka Piroshky, a Seattle-based food stand dedicated to the Russian pastry.
Owner Steven Barrett, a three-decade presence at Salmon Days, said the gray conditions did not dampen turnout.
“People are still coming out, and even though the economy is the way it is, they still come out and enjoy the festival,” he said. “It’s a good family atmosphere. The city has a good community: friends talking to friends, neighbors saying hi.”
Michael Fazio, the self-described right-hand man at Ballard Brothers Seafood, scraped down grills and as a large crowd lined up for blackened salmon.
“Today’s a little bit busy,” he said. “We’ve had a long line.”
Redmond resident Lauri Grossman, 43, stopped to eat some sticky rice from a dim sum stand on the opening day of the festival.
“It’s really good. Everyone keeps coming by and is like, ‘What are you eating? Where is it?’” she said. “We just keep sending them a lot of business.”
Bands pay tribute to legends
The next best thing to Paul McCartney: Wings and Things, a band dedicated to the music of the former Beatle and Wings frontman.
“Having tribute bands is great. They should do it more. It’s awesome,” Fall City resident Angie Preuett said.
Stages transformed sections of Issaquah streets into concert venues, and a roster of cover bands performed throughout Salmon Days.
Issaquah resident Roy Richmond brought wife Christine and dog Murphy downtown to Salmon Days. The music, he added, is a draw.
“It’s the main reason we come is for the music,” Richmond said.
The lineup included blues and metal, plus a smattering of artists dedicated to the music of AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac Styx and the aforementioned Wings.
Issaquah resident Nick Vlahovich took in a performance by the McCartney-inspired band Wings and Things during a festival afternoon.
“I love this kind of music,” Vlahovich said. “I was a teen when this came out. I’d come back every year just for these guys.”
Shoppers scour for treasures
Sue Brokaw, 57, learned about Salmon Days from a Ford salesman in Boise, Idaho.
“He said it was a really big show, and that it was just awesome, so we decided to give it a try,” she said.
So, the owner of Spoons N’ Things — seller of jewelry and wind chimes fashioned from vintage silverware — journeyed more than 400 miles from the Idaho capital to Issaquah.
“I’m real pleased with it. It’s just been a wonderful experience,” Brokaw said as people lined up on the street to examine rings and wind chimes crafted from spoons.
“Compared to the last two years, this year looks like it’s going to be up a bit,” festival vendor Mark “Rudi” Rudolph said.
Issaquah resident Jaymie Cizek, 44, stopped at a booth to peruse hand-painted gifts and home décor.
“It’s the kind of stuff that just makes you kind of sit back and think a little bit about what’s important,” she said. “We need those little reminders when we go from room to room from time to time.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporters David Hayes and Tim Pfarr contributed to this report. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.