Music, festivities and art will again descend on the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik when Salmonfest 2023 fills the space with around 60 acts playing packed schedules on four stages across three days, Aug. 4-6.
“There are fantastic bands playing on every stage all weekend,” Jim Stearns, festival director, said in a provided statement. “We’re thrilled to showcase our deepest lineup ever and all of the trappings that make Salmonfest the event it is.”
That deep lineup was the focus when headliners were announced earlier this year. Assistant Director David Stearns said then that the acts bring an “eclectic” mix of different styles, something for everyone.
Represented among the talent are local acts like Blackwater Railroad Company, Medium Build and the Hope Social Club, and national performers like Old Crow Medicine Show, Sierra Ferrell, Jackie Venson, and Tom Rigney and Flambeau.
Tyson Davis, lead vocalist for Blackwater Railroad, said Thursday that Salmonfest is the “biggest family reunion,” a rare chance for bands to play together, to gather and to see what their peers are working on. He said it’s exciting to see Alaska musicians stand alongside “beloved national acts.”
Blackwater Railroad has been playing at Salmonfest since 2014, and he said it’s “become a tradition for many Alaskans.”
He said Salmonfest has been a tangible metric for the growth of the band. Over the years they’ve climbed the roster and the billing. Similarly, Davis said he’s seen Salmonfest growing alongside them.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to do it again, hope people are raring to go when we hit the stage,” Davis said.
Blackwater Railroad will play Friday at 4:35 p.m. and Saturday at 5:15 p.m.
One of the national performers, traveling to Alaska from San Francisco, is Tom Rigney and Flambeau, a five-piece band led by electric violin who play “American roots, cajun, blues and New Orleans grooves.”
“Flambeau showcases Rigney’s fiery, virtuoso fiddling, his charismatic stage presence, and his range and originality as a composer,” a bio provided by Rigney reads.
Rigney said Wednesday he used to be in a band called the Sun Dogs, who played annually at the Alaska State Fair for more than 20 years.
“It’s one of the most fun places to play,” he said.
Rigney reached out to Salmonfest looking to make his way back to the state, and in “one of those unusual coincidences,” reconnected with Jim Stearns, an old friend.
“We’re very excited to come back,” he said. “Put me in front of an audience, put my great band in front of an audience, everyone’s gonna get the same great show we put on everywhere.”
Tom Rigney and Flambeau will play Saturday at 4:15 p.m. and Sunday at 6:35 p.m.
In addition to the music, art and vendors will be showcased, the Fourth Annual Smoked Salmon Super Bowl competition will be held and money from the event will be used to advocate for “all salmon related causes.”
Recycling is a focus on the campground with zero waste stations run by local community groups. Volunteers from the “Zero Waste Crew” will be stationed at each of these to help ensure waste, recycling and compost are sorted into the proper bins.
On-site camping is sold out, but camping will be available at a variety of locations nearby. More information can be found at salmonfestalaska.org/camping.
Tickets and more information can be found at salmonfestalaska.org.