Salmonfest Draws 8,000 Lovers of Music and Salmon Habitat

Salmonfest 2018 at Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, brought together more than 8,000 people for three days of music, food, fish and love. The event celebrates the connection of Alaskans to the fish and waters that provide their beloved resource.

Sixty-five bands performed on four stages in this annual late summer event that also promotes information on the importance of healthy salmon habitat and educates festival goers on projects that could potentially have adverse impact on critical habitat.

Salmon themes and signs protesting the Pebble mine were visible festival-wide. Headliner Brandi Carlile’s band and other musicians also sported stickers on their shirts in protest of the proposed Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay watershed area.

“This is the population that can make a difference,” said Sam Snyder, the Wild Salmon Center’s senior campaign manager, whose focus this year is the Stand for Salmon Campaign backing the salmon initiative on the state’s general election ballot in November.

“We’ve got to protect the habitat,” Snyder said. “How do we maintain habitat and balance with resource development? Our fisheries are complicated.” These fish, he said, “are part of our economy, part of our culture.”

The eclectic crowd, from parents with babies in arms to grandparents from the Woodstock generation, meandered in the warm sunshine between informational booths manned by a variety of conservation and environmental entities to vendors hawking food and beverages, crafts and even massages.

“We love salmon,” said Dawnell Smith of Trustees for Alaska, a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with offices in Anchorage, Alaska. “We love clean waters. We want people to know what we do.”

The annual music festival is supported by and benefits two non-profits, the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society and Cook Inletkeeper, both of Homer, Alaska.