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First Salmon Festival coming to downtown Enumclaw

Enumclaw typically isn't thought of as a hotbed for the region's salmon population, and that's exactly why a handful of local groups have joined the Mid-Puget Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group in planning the Enumclaw Salmon Festival.

Ashley Peck, outreach volunteer for Mid-Sound, stood before the Enumclaw City Council last week to detail plans for the Oct. 18 event. The plan is to educate the community about the value of salmon, she said, while providing plenty of fun for the entire family. The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the downtown parking lot at Cole Street and Initial Avenue.

This will be the first-ever Salmon Festival for Enumclaw, but organizers have high hopes, imagining the event growing into something like Issaquah's big, annual celebration.

The first hurdle is to link Enumclaw with salmon. While acknowledging most don't make a strong connection, Mid-Sound points out Newaukum Creek and its tributaries provide vital spawning habitat for thousands of coho, Chinook and other species every year. Peck said one goal of the festival is to link salmon to the economy and the culture of the community.

The festival will include educational booths and presentations by community organizations, environmental groups and both state and King County agencies. There will also be arts and crafts vendors and food vendors; organizers are still working on a salmon bake and beer garden, but those plans haven't been finalized, Peck said.

As a special draw for kids, there will be a live fishing derby pond at the event, plus a salmon-themed art contest through local schools. Additionally, all information booths are being required to have an interactive element that will appeal to the younger set. There will be mountain bike tours of the area on the morning of the festival, and Mid-Sound has organized a tour to a private landowner's property near the Whitney Bridge, so the public can view returning salmon in Newaukum Creek; guests will be shuttled by van from Enumclaw to the viewing area.

Adding to the day will be live music in the downtown Enumclaw parking lot. Sockeye is scheduled to perform from 10 to 11:30 a.m., Uncle Dan's Original Recipe will take the stage from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and Lance Romance is slated to play from 3 to 5 p.m.

The primary organizer for the Enumclaw event is Mid-Puget Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group, a non-profit organization that has been working with local landowners and volunteers to restore salmon habitat on Newaukum Creek for more than 10 years. Mid-Sound has planted native shrubs, reduced invasive blackberry bushes and been responsible for in-stream construction to improve habitat for fish. Other partners in the event are the city of Enumclaw, the Enumclaw Area Chamber of Commerce, Enumclaw Downtown Partnership, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Hancock Forest Management, Boy Scouts Pack 520 and the Middle Green River Coalition.

Anyone wishing more information about the upcoming Enumclaw Salmon Festival can contact the Chamber of Commerce at 360-825-7666 or the Mid-Puget Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group at 206-529-9467.

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