Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion August Thompson, 3, and dad Ryan Thompson dance along to the Blackwater Railroad Company's afternoon performance Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion August Thompson, 3, and dad Ryan Thompson dance along to the Blackwater Railroad Company's afternoon performance Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Fishing for knowledge

  • By MEGAN PACER and ANNA FROST
  • Sunday, August 7, 2016 10:00pm
  • News

While the annual Salmonfest has no shortage of entertaining musical acts, many festival-goers are attracted to Ninilchik each year for the festival’s work with education and advocacy as well.

Presented by the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, this year’s festival got significant support from Cook Inletkeeper. Community Organizer Kaitlin Vadla said coordinating the salmon education and awareness section of the event was a great learning experience for the organization.

“We wanted to be involved because of the education that happens here and so we’re in charge of the salmon causeway and all these different organizations,” Vadla said.

A large focus of the education efforts of the festival in the past was the threat of a mine to Bristol Bay.

Conversation around that issue has since died down slightly, which Vadla said opened up the opportunity for other problems facing salmon to take center stage.

“Pebble’s still alive and it’s not dead yet, but I think now it’s a nice way for people to see the myriad issues that salmon face,” she said.

One such organization, Stand for Salmon, was new to Salmonfest this year and promoted its strategy of putting salmon first, Vadla said.

Several organizations are fighting against things that are harmful to the fish, while Stand for Salmon’s goal is that Alaska’s policies put fish at the forefront, she said.

“A festival is always a lot of love and energy from everybody who’s involved,” Vadla said. “It’s exhilarating and it can be exhausting and draining, but it’s pretty neat to watch little kids — you know, we’ve got murals over there to paint or to be involved or to learn. A lot of people come by like, ‘Wow, I had no idea!’”

There’s a good chance Cook Inletkeeper will continue its involvement with Salmonfest in the future, Vadla said.

Also making its first appearance at the festival was Green Dot Homer. Volunteers from the Homer chapter were armed with a booth, scavenger hunt and other activities to bring awareness to the movement that seeks to train people how to reduce violence in their communities.

Instructors Brittany Berger and Tara Schmidt were there signing up those interested in hosting training sessions in their own towns. Instructor Doug Koester also hosted a class on Green Dot techniques with Schmidt on Saturday afternoon.

Schmidt said she was impressed by the number of festival-goers who said they’ve heard about Green Dot, adding that awareness has grown since the group began working locally three years ago.

At the same time, a lot of people are still not aware of the movement, so the instructors are “reaching an audience that we haven’t previously been able to,” Schmidt said.

Koester said he was pleased by the turn out to the Green Dot booth and to the Green Dot presentation, even though some of the crowd did not stay for the whole talk.

“The coolest part about it for me was there was a group of boys probably about (ages) 16-18 and they stayed for most of it and it just makes me feel really good that young men want to learn about intervening,” Koester said. “Definitely we’re talking about heavy tough subjects and they were definitely engaged and I appreciated that so much. “

Green Dot training helps people learn how to be “better bystanders,” Berger said. Both she and Schmidt said Salmonfest organizers were very supportive of having the group there this year. Green Dot’s goal is to change society norms to prevent violence by no longer turning a blind eye to potentially harmful situations happening within the community.

“It’s not salmon advocacy but it’s about advocacy for all human beings, you know?” Schmidt said. “So, it’s about looking out for each other and creating an ecosystem of caring amongst everybody in our communities.”

The advocacy for environmental and community change at Salmonfest sets the festival apart from other music events across the country. Jay Brooks recently moved from Santa Barbara, California to Soldotna and was attracted to Salmonfest since he had attended the music festival Lucidity for many years in his hometown.

“It’s awesome to see this cross-section of what’s going on up here. Different people into different things,” Brooks said. “I was really happy and surprised to see one of the branches of Rising Tide here and there was a great little awareness action thing down the road at the fracking well so it was cool. You have Salmonfest celebrating the salmon and then people making these connections of what can we do for the salmon here and I just thought that was awesome.”

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com. Reach Anna Frost at anna.frost@homernews.com.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Audience members came well prepared for the rain that muddied the fairgrounds Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Audience members came well prepared for the rain that muddied the fairgrounds Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Audience members clap along to the Blackwater Railroad Company's afternoon performance Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Audience members clap along to the Blackwater Railroad Company’s afternoon performance Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Hope Social Club performs at Ocean State on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Hope Social Club performs at Ocean State on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Christina Randall participates in a workshop presented by Maria Finn, author of "The Whole Fish, How Adventurous Eating of Seafood Will Make you Healthier, Sexier and Help Save the Ocean", on how to use every part of the salmon Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Christina Randall participates in a workshop presented by Maria Finn, author of “The Whole Fish, How Adventurous Eating of Seafood Will Make you Healthier, Sexier and Help Save the Ocean”, on how to use every part of the salmon Saturday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Anna Frost/Homer News Participants in Salmonfest's King Sam parade carry a giant salmon puppet throughout the festival grounds, followed by a procession of people celebrating the fish Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Photo by Anna Frost/Homer News Participants in Salmonfest’s King Sam parade carry a giant salmon puppet throughout the festival grounds, followed by a procession of people celebrating the fish Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska.

Green Dot Instructor Tara Schmidt, left, and Britni Seikanic, a Green Dot volunteer, make it rain Green Dots during Salmonfest, Aug. 5-7, 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Homer representatives of Green Dot, a movement dedicated to ending violence in communities through the work of bystanders, had a booth at the festival for the first time.

Green Dot Instructor Tara Schmidt, left, and Britni Seikanic, a Green Dot volunteer, make it rain Green Dots during Salmonfest, Aug. 5-7, 2016 in Ninilchik, Alaska. Homer representatives of Green Dot, a movement dedicated to ending violence in communities through the work of bystanders, had a booth at the festival for the first time.

Members of Green Dot Homer hung up personal connection slips from bystander trainings they held Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 at this year's Salmonfest in Ninilchik, Alaska. Personal connections are people's reasons for being part of interpersonal violence prevention, the members said.

Members of Green Dot Homer hung up personal connection slips from bystander trainings they held Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 at this year’s Salmonfest in Ninilchik, Alaska. Personal connections are people’s reasons for being part of interpersonal violence prevention, the members said.

More in News

Alaska Department of Fish and Game logo. (Graphic by Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Board of Fisheries approves Kenai River king salmon action plan

The plan adds bait restrictions for in-river fisheries, doubles the sport bag limit for sockeye salmon, and adds a swath of restrictions to the commercial setnet fishery

The Kenai Municipal Airport is seen on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
New Grant Aviation planes to double service’s flight capacity

The first of two Cessna 208B EX Grand Caravans will start transporting passengers on Monday

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Most Read