As Seldovia recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, one sign that the small town has returned to normal comes with a harbinger of summer: the Fourth of July festival. Locals and tourists are invited to celebrate the Fourth of July in the waterfront town of Seldovia with a day full of events for all ages and interests, including a 5K race, parade, kayak racing and live music. Seldovia is a 15-mile boat or airplane ride across Kachemak Bay and into lower Cook Inlet from Homer.
During a Homer News visit to Seldovia last Thursday, business owners and tribal officials spoke of how the town pulled through the pandemic.
According to Laurel Hilts, marketing and public relations director for the Seldovia Village Tribe, Seldovia fared well during the COVID-19 pandemic because of its reclusive location, and they are excited to see more people visiting again. She estimated that roughly 50% of the population has received their vaccinations.
“For Seldovia, very few households have had COVID. When it was identified that they did have COVID, really those households kept everything contained, so there wasn’t a spread in the community,” Hilts explained. “It was only travel-based that anyone got COVID.”
“At Seldovia Village Tribe, our leadership has been ‘Live well. Live wise. Embrace life and don’t live in fear.’ So we didn’t shut down,” Hilts said. “We had to restrict our services, health care in particular, but we just adapted, adjusted and regrouped.”
Hilts said the local businesses, including restaurants, travel services, shops and more, banded together to continue serving the community while also enforcing health and safety guidelines. Since tourist season was limited last summer, the local people also helped support businesses that were affected.
“We had local businesses working really hard to make sure services were still available for those of us who were still here and those of us wanting to come together to support them,” Hilts said.
Asta Gallery and Gifts, a local shop, actually closed during the pandemic, but owner Sandy Bridge said the excitement they’ve seen from tourists visiting Seldovia now that the pandemic is lessening gives her hope for the upcoming season. She said seeing people visit again is exciting.
“It’s fun to have people back,” Bridge said. “Seldovia is a great place to come for a few days.”
In Seldovia, tourists can enjoy food, hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking, exploring the town and learning more about the historical boardwalk and the Seldovia Village Tribe. Additionally, the town of Seldovia hosts live music and a farmers market every weekend during the summer.
Ultimately, Hilts says Seldovia is a destination for everyone to visit, and if any of the activities the town is known for are not of interest, she encourages visitors to sit and listen to the stories of the locals.
“We have a nice little thriving group of people here who are raising their families, working their businesses, so it’s a nice mix of things,” Hilts said. “It’s really neat because we bring our own influence, our own vibe, our own cultures together here. … It’s a mixed salad. Everyone’s uniqueness remains the same, but it contributes to the experience. Maybe the salad dressing is the place. The shared thing is the sense of place here.”
Seldovia is open and inviting all locals and visitors to participate in this year’s Independence Day festival, themed “Celebrate Freedom!,” on Sunday, July 4.
The schedule of events is as follows:
7-10 a.m.: Pancake breakfast at the Fire Hall
7:30-8:30 a.m.: Registration for Salmon Shuffle 5K in harbor parking lot
9 a.m.: Salmon Shuffle 5K begins on Main Street
10 a.m.: Beer Garden opens outside of Linwood Bar & Grill; Book Sale at the Seldovia Public Library; Patriotic Service at the Seldovia Bible Chapel
Noon: Fourth of July Parade begins on Main Street
1 p.m.: Kenai Peninsula Brass Band at the Seldovia Gateway Pavilion; Kids games on the lawn next to Linwood Bar & Grill
2 p.m.: Rubber Ducky Race at the Seldovia Slough Bridge
3 p.m.: Egg Toss and Salmon Toss for teens and adults
3:30 p.m.: Chum Run Foot Race for adults at Eternal Buzz
4 p.m.: Kayak Races for teens and adults at the boat launch
Later this summer, Seldovia will also host the Alaska Tugnuts Rendezvous July 15-17, the Seldovia Fly-In July 16-17 and the Jakolof Bay 10-Miler July 24. The community will end the summer with a Labor Day Weekend Music Festival & Higgy’s En Plein Air Sept. 3-4.