Come out for food, fun and flair at 44th annual Salmon Days

October 1, 2013

By Peter Clark

As the salmon return, so do the thousands of people expected for this year’s Salmon Days Festival.

Oct. 5 and 6 will see coho, chinook, sockeye, kokanee and many festivalgoers make their way to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery for a weekendlong celebration full of events, activities, food and music.

The homegrown event celebrates the return of local salmon as they make their pilgrimage from the Pacific Ocean back to the spawning grounds of Issaquah Creek and the hatchery. Approximately 180,000 people attended last year’s event, which was met with sunny, mild weather.

The Grand Parade will kick off the weekend beginning at 10 a.m. Oct. 5. It will wind its way down Front Street to the hatchery in a bright display of community spirit and appreciation of the surrounding environment.

By Greg Farrar Two Chinook salmon struggle at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery weir Sept. 26 to return upstream seeking a place to spawn in Issaquah Creek.

By Greg Farrar
Two Chinook salmon struggle at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery weir Sept. 26 to return upstream seeking a place to spawn in Issaquah Creek.

Salmon Days also brings artists from the region to show off their talent and sell their expressive wares. With crafts and seasonal goods for sale, more than 250 booths are expected to give plenty for art lovers to see.

This year’s festival also brings back the Greenbelt Gallery, the eclectic section along Rainier Boulevard by City Hall South that will showcase local interest topics from sustainability to Issaquah’s sister cities.

Do not forget the food. Salmon Day’s organizers promise some of the best local, Northwest and global food. The Kiwanis Club of Issaquah will also fire up the grill for its famous annual salmon barbecue.

Live music will sing the salmon home on a total of five stages this year, featuring a number of different musical styles for all audiences. The Front Street Stage will host local, new and upcoming talent of every genre. The Go Fish! Stage will have a mixture of everything from Moroccan sounds to Appalachian clog dancing. The Hatchery Stage is the place to go to experience the toe-tapping sounds of swing and bluegrass. The David Harris Rainier Blvd. Stage will host rock, rhythm and blues, pop, dance and headliner hits. Finally, the Kids’ Stage will live up to its name and deliver everything kids love: music, puppeteers, magicians and jugglers.

Veterans’ Memorial Field will be the site of the Field of Fun, in case there still does not seem to be enough entertainment. While the salmondays.org claim of a “bazillion events and activities” is probably an exaggeration, there still will be plenty to put a smile on the face of every age group. There will be inflatable fun, sports challenges, animals, hands-on projects, arts and crafts, interactive games, cool kid carnival fun and more.

The morning of Oct. 6, joggers with time to stretch will hope for nice weather in the Run with the Fishes. Hosted by the Issaquah Rotary foundation, the 5-kilometer event will take runners and walkers down Gilman Boulevard and also feature a 1-kilometer fun run for children younger than 12.

The simplest pleasure of Salmon Days is to join the crowd on the Issaquah Creek bridge and watch the fish swim home and jump the fish ladder. Of course, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery docents will be out in full force to offer tours of the facility and educate the public about the life cycle of the fish.

With “Streaming Live” as the theme this year, organizers hope to share the future of the hatchery, the festival and the fish with those who will attend.

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