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Salmon are special on Saturday - Community to host inaugural Salmon Festival downtown

The community is invited to learn more about the wonders of Pacific Northwest salmon at Saturday's inaugural Enumclaw Salmon Festival.

The event is slated to run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will include everything from live music and food to face painting and educational displays.

The festival will be held in the downtown parking lot at Cole Street and Initial Avenue and will feature a variety of fun activities to promote the value of salmon to the environment, the culture and the economy of the Plateau.

The festival will feature many activities especially for kids. For example, they can cast a line at a live fishing derby pond and try their luck at catching a big one. All equipment and bait will be provided. Charges will be $1 to fish and 10 cents per inch for any fish caught. Fish cleaning will also be available through the Boy Scout Pack 500.

Also, "FIN, the Migrating Salmon" will be making a special appearance at the festival. FIN is a 25-foot interactive sculpture of a Pacific salmon, complete with educational murals that depict salmon habitat. Kids can get up close and personal with FIN by walking inside the exhibit to learn about watersheds and the animals that share habitat with salmon. Salmon-themed face painting will also be available at the Boy Scout Pack 520 booth. The cost will be $5 for full face and $3 for partial face designs.

The Enumclaw Salmon Festival also will feature several arts and crafts booths and food booths by local vendors. As a special draw, Coho's Steak and Seafood Grill of Buckley will host a salmon bake. Hungry visitors will be able to indulge in ginger soy marinated salmon with mango chutney and coleslaw as well as hot salmon chowder.

The Enumclaw Salmon Festival offers free live music all day. Dance to the country rhythm and blues of Lance Romance (3 to 5 p.m.), the bluegrass sounds of Uncle Dan's Original Recipe (12:30 to 2:30 p.m.) and country with a kick by Seattle's Sockeye 10 to 11:45 a.m.). At 11:45, there will be a formal welcome from Mayor John Wise, along with presentation of art contest prizes for kids. A coloring contest for elementary school students and general art contest for junior high and high school students have been promoted through local schools. Nine cash prizes will be awarded on the day of the festival.

While Enumclaw isn't necessarily well known for salmon, the local Newaukum Creek and its tributaries provide vital spawning and rearing habitat for thousands of coho, Chinook and other salmonid species every year. The Green River and its other tributaries also support large salmon populations, as does local Boise Creek.

The Enumclaw Salmon Festival aims to increase awareness of salmon in local streams and what local people can do to help with salmon recovery efforts. Booths will teach participants about efforts to restore salmon populations and protect the environment of the region. Representatives from Mid Puget Sound Fisheries, the Muckleshoot Tribe, King Conservation District, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other community groups will staff educational booths at the festival. There will also be free informative workshops about landscaping with native plants, animal tracking and efforts to protect the Green River Gorge at the Enumclaw Public Library. The schedule for the library talks is as follows:

€ 11 a.m. to noon - Middle Green River Coalition presentation

€ 12:30 to 2 p.m. - King County "naturescaping" workshop

€ 2 to 3 p.m. - Common ground animal tracking talk

€ 3 to 4 p.m. - Middle Green River Coalition presentation

Festival participants will be able to see live salmon in action on a Mid Sound Fisheries tour to the mouth of Newaukum Creek near the Whitney Bridge. Six tours will leave on the hour, starting at 11 a.m., with the last tour leaving at 4 p.m. Tours should run a little more than an hour with drive time. There will be no charge for the tours, but donations will be accepted.

In addition to van tours, the festival also will feature two "Tour de Salmon" bicycle rides on the morning of the festival, each with stops to view returning salmon. The rides have been organized by the Middle Green River Coalition, the Cascades Bicycle Club and the Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club. The scenic 25-mile road ride starts at 9 a.m. and will tour the Enumclaw Plateau, the Green River Gorge and Newaukum Creek. The 20-mile mountain bike ride will follow the future Enumclaw Foothills Trail to the Green River trails on logging roads andstarts at 9:30 a.m. Both rides begin in front of Cole Street Bikes, 1456 Cole St., downtown Enumclaw. Call ride leader Roger Salstrom at 206-276-8348 to sign up for the road ride or visit www.bbtc.org to sign up for the mountain bike ride.

Organizers emphasize that salmon represent the Northwest with their vitality and unique ability to show the critical connection between forests, rivers and oceans. Their return to the streams of their birth at this time of year is one of the region's natural wonders, and is cause for celebration in many circles. Issaquah has developed a huge community celebration around its salmon festival, and organizers are hoping to see the same kind of excitement evolve in Enumclaw.

The main organizer of the event is the Mid Puget Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group, a non-profit organization that has been working with local landowners and volunteers to restore salmon habitat on the local Newaukum Creek for more than 10 years. Mid Sound's efforts include native planting, invasive plant removal, culvert removal, placement of large woody debris and other instream construction projects to improve salmon habitat.

Other partners and sponsors of the event include the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, the city of Enumclaw, the Enumclaw Area Chamber of Commerce, the Enumclaw Downtown Partnership, Hancock Forest Management, Boy Scouts of America (packs 520 and 500) and the Middle Green River Coalition.

All festival proceeds will benefit salmon habitat restoration projects on Newaukum Creek. For more information about the festival, contact the Enumclaw Area Chamber of Commerce, 360-825-7666, or Mid Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group, 206-529-9467.

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