Salmon Days Festival returns to downtown Issaquah

October 2, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

A chinook tries to surmount the weir Sept. 28 at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. By Greg Farrar

The ode to salmon migration, Issaquah’s iconic Salmon Days Festival, returns to downtown Issaquah on Oct. 6-7.

The 43rd annual festival, presented by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, celebrates the autumn return of salmon from the Pacific Ocean to Issaquah Creek, after a harrowing journey through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard, and lakes Washington and Sammamish.

The festival reels in attendees for a parade, carnival games, street snacks, arts and crafts, and, of course, a chance to see migrating chinook and coho.

Expect more than 150,000 people in downtown Issaquah for Salmon Days — if sunshine and mild temperatures remain in the forecast.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Seattle predicted clear skies and temperatures in the upper 60s for both days during the festival.

The weather is a critical component in Salmon Days’ success, and although soggy conditions can dampen attendance, autumnal sunshine is certain to lure more visitors to Issaquah.

Beneath the trappings and trimmings, Salmon Days celebrates spawning salmon in Issaquah Creek.

Crowds jam the bridge across the creek on the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery grounds and press close to portals to see the fish up close.

Salmon Days is a community celebration rooted in a long-ago Labor Day parade. In the 1970s, as the former celebration morphed into Salmon Days, the hatchery served as a focal point during the festivities.

The celebration carries added significance, because the hatchery marked 75 years in April. The yearlong celebration comes to Salmon Days as Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery docents answer questions about the history.

If you go

Salmon Days Festival

On the Web

Join The Issaquah Press to celebrate the Salmon Days Festival on Twitter. Use the hashtag #SalmonDays to help others follow the fun. Follow the newspaper at

What to know

Find schedules, a festival lineup, a dose of hatchery history and a map of festival venues in the Ohfishal Salmon Days Festival Program.

Conservationists and longtime Issaquah residents credit the hatchery for restoring the historic Issaquah Creek salmon runs after decades of logging and mining damaged the creek and surrounding watershed.

Salmon Days activities abound beyond the hatchery grounds, too.

The festival starts at 10 a.m. Oct. 6 as the Grande Parade starts inching through the business district.

Organizers tapped cyclist Jennie Reed, a silver medalist at the 2012 Summer Olympics and Issaquah High School alumna, to serve as grand marshal in the parade.

Reed, a 1996 Issaquah High graduate, won a medal in women’s team pursuit, a cycling event, at the London Olympics.

In addition to the Olympian, expect to see about 90 floats — including VIPs such as Mayor Ava Frisinger and representatives from Issaquah’s sister city, Chefchaouen, Morocco, plus entries from other Pacific Northwest festivals and local organizations.

Festivalgoers can nosh on corn dogs, elephant ears, gyros, kettle corn and other fair favorites at the Foods of the World area near the Issaquah Train Depot.

The titular item is on the menu at the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah’s annual salmon barbecue. Proceeds from the event fund the service organization’s programs throughout the year.

Or, festivalgoers can roll around in Human Hamster Balls and watch the Puget Sound DockDogs leap into a pool at the Salmon Days’ Field of Fun on Veterans’ Memorial Field.

Issaquah Valley Trolley Project organizers plan to display a restored streetcar at the depot. In late August, the streetcar, No. 519, returned to Issaquah after a monthslong restoration in Iowa. The nonprofit trolley organization plans to start running the trolley along downtown track on weekends starting Oct. 14.

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