Salmonfest hopes to minimize waste

  • By KAT SORENSEN
  • Wednesday, July 19, 2017 9:59pm
  • NewsMusic

Salmonfest attendees parade through the festival grounds carrying a large, handmade salmon at the 2016 festival in Ninilchik. (Clarion file photo)

Salmonfest hopes to leave festivalgoers with memories of fish, love and music while leaving behind as little waste as possible.

The three-day festival, from Aug. 4 to 6 in Ninilchik, has teamed up with Soldotna-based recycling advocacy group ReGroup, Cook Inletkeeper, Kachemak Bay Conservation Society and Matti’s Farm in Kenai to work toward a goal of a zero waste festival.

“From the start, we’ve taken a lot of steps to reduce waste at the festival,” Salmonfest Producer Jim Stearns said. “The reusable cups in the beer gardens are not only collectable but they help reduce the need for thousands and thousands of single-use cups during the event. We’re excited to take it to the next level this year.”

This year, the zero waste stations will be located throughout the fairgrounds manned by volunteers to help festivalgoers recycle most efficiently.

“There’s always been some recycling available at the festival, but this year we want to make it really obvious and easy,” said Cook Inletkeeper Director Carly Wier, “and since so much of our waste stream is made up of biodegradable, compostable material, we think we can reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill by more than 50 percent this year.”

The zero waste stations will have a trash can, recycling and compost bins to dispose of waste properly. The recyclable materials, such as plastic and aluminum, will be recycled through the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s recycling program.

For the second year, compostable materials will be composted into soil amendment at Matti’s Farm, a nonprofit organization that aims to help at-risk youth through a hands-on farming lifestyle.

“One of the neat things of kids growing up on a farm is they become experts on ecology,” Blair Martin of Matti’s Farm said. “It’s really empowering and exciting for them … and we use composting because it’s sustainable and it’s a conversation starter … no we’re not just doing farming, we’re raising children. This is just a method to our madness.”

Martin started composting a few years ago with 18 cubic yards of salmon waste at his resort, Diamond M Ranch. Word spread and Martin began collecting compost at local events, including the Kenai Watershed Forum’s Riverfest. This is the second year Matti’s Farm will be collecting Salmonfest’s compost.

“We’re thinking it’s going to be bigger and better this year,” Martin said. “We’re very optimistic. We have a curator standing at the waste receptacle teaching everyone as they come up. … So we’ll tell them don’t mix the organic stuff with the nasty stuff.”

The festival is still looking for volunteers to help man the zero waste stations throughout the festival weekend.

“It takes a lot of hands to make this happen,” Cook Inletkeeper’s Volunteer Coordinator Natalia Mulawa said. “We can use some more people to help us turn this vision into reality.”

Volunteers who work a four-hour shift will receive free admission to Salmonfest and a zero waste T-shirt. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Mulawa at natalia@inletkeeper.org.

This year’s festival boasts a lineup of the biggest selection of Alaska’s bands and headliners such as Jewel, Railroad Earth and Rusted Root.

Salmonfest also offers “some of Alaska’s most dynamic art and crafts, special brews, tasty food and this year, the new zero waste stations to help clean everything up,” festival producers said in a release. “Every year we work to make the festival more enjoyable, more music, more art, more fish, love and music.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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