Salmonfest 2019: Fish, Love and Music


October 1, 2019

Jim Stearns, executive producer of Salmonfest, a passionate conservationist, was hired in 2011 to put the festival together to stop the Pebble mine.

Sunshine and good vibes flowed on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula as several thousand people descended on Salmonfest 2019, three days of fish, love and music that also serves to impress upon participants the vital importance of healthy salmon habitat.

"Salmonfest is recognized as a major force in organizing and educating people against the Pebble mine," says Jim Stearns, executive producer of the annual event, held Aug. 2-4.

Salmonfest, now in its ninth year, began in 2011 as Salmonstock, to rally opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine.

As Stearns tells it, the event quickly became a force in promoting, preserving and protecting salmon and salmon habitat. The event also from its start attracted a following of people passionate about salmon and music, many of whom return annually to camp out and listen to three days of almost non-stop music from over 60 bands on four stages.

Boatswain's Locker

This year's headliners were folk rock songwriter Ani DiFranco and Jason Mraz, known for his eclectic mix of soul, reggae folk, funk and hip hop music.

For Stearns, once on staff with the famed Grateful Dead rock band, it is admittedly a labor of love. "I know how to keep things lively," said Stearns, who got his start in entertainment throwing parties back in his college days. As Salmonfest grew in popularity, with more and more people showing up with their tents to enjoy all three days of the event, Stearns realized there was a need for more camping space, so this year Salmonfest acquired 40 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the fairgrounds and opened it up for camping.

Along with a paid staff of 50, Salmonfest has 350 volunteers.

Vendor space, which sells out in early spring, is filled by crafters, artists and food sellers offering everything from salmon and halibut dishes to pizza.

Jen Luton, of Kenai, one of two tie-dye vendors this year, said she gets into full blown conversations with all of her customers, whom she describes as "extremely cool, salt of the earth people." The Pebble Mine, said Luton, "is the wrong mine in the wrong place. Some people don't realize how important it is to protect the environment."

Major supporters of Salmonfest include the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, Cook Inletkeeper, both of Homer, who offer information on the importance of protecting fish habitat at their festival booths. The family friendly event also includes plenty of activities for youngsters attending, demonstrations on use of the whole salmon in cooking, fish art printing and environmental education

Event proceeds are shared with a variety of entities that promote healthy fish habitat, as well as public radio stations and the Alaska Sudan Medical Project for Clean Water.

Homer boat builder David Seaman, left, with Tim Troll, executive director of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, had a booth at Salmonfest 2019 to raise funds for a project centered around restoration of a vintage 1930s wooden sailboat that Seaman is restoring and will be featured in a short documentary film.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020