• Sitka Food Hub chosen as one of Sitka Health Summit’s two new community wellness projects for 2013-14

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Summit_LogoWhen the Sitka Health Summit met on Friday at Sweetland Hall to choose its new community wellness projects for the next year, Sitka residents chose creating a Sitka Food Hub as one of the priority projects.

The Sitka Food Hub has multiple purposes. It will serve as a local community food bank, and provide emergency food storage for Sitka. In addition, it will be a program that can help teach food storage and canning skills so residents can fill their own pantries.

Some of the reasons members gave for creating a Sitka Food Hub included eliminating hunger in Sitka, providing canning and food education, providing a community food storage on high ground, helping Sitka prepare for emergencies and have community resiliency, increasing Sitka’s food security, and more.

The goal of the Sitka Food Hub is to work together as a community to make sure everyone in Sitka has access to healthy food daily and for any emergencies. The project will receive $1,500 as seed money and facilitation help from the Sitka Health Summit. The Sitka Health Summit’s other community wellness project this year is to create a task force to prevent the use of meth in Sitka.

The first meeting of the Sitka Food Hub group will be from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. All community members are invited, especially if they are connected to local schools, emergency planning organizations, food organizations, clergy, government agencies, health programs, and others who deal in hunger and food security issues. If you can’t attend, but might be able to provide us with resources and partnership opportunities, please contact us.

To learn more about the Sitka Food Hub and to get onto the group’s email list, contact Marjorie Hennessy at 747-7509 (days) or marjorie@sitkawild.org.

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• Sitka Seafood Festival announces new director; will host art auction on Saturday, Oct. 5

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(The following letter to the editor originally appeared on Page 2 of the Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with the writer’s permission.)
 
ssflogo2The fifth annual Sitka Seafood Festival (SSF) is scheduled for Aug. 1-2, 2014. The festival continues to grow each year. This past year we brought in more than 100 out-of-own guests, had some national recognition from a couple of well-known culinary magazines, and continued to have more and more local support. 
 
Over the past four years, we have had a small group of volunteers working extremely hard to follow through with our mission statement, to “celebrate wild Alaskan seafood.” We have done this through education, such as bringing in amazing speakers such as a 2012 McArthur Genius Award-winner David Montgomery, and accomplished author, professor and chef Becky Selengut to offer free presentations to the public. We also started the new culinary scholarship award this past year which we hope will continue to grow to give a passionate future culinary artist more experience and funds to pursue their career further. 
 
We offer entertainment, including local and headliner bands such as the well-known band Trampled by Turtles, aerial silk dancers, Ninja acrobatics, and of course, the addition of the Scottish Highland Games and this past year the full- and half-marathon. But, even with all the other fun events going on, the focus of our festival is based around celebrating the culinary aspect of our amazing, local seafood products.  
Carolyn Kinneen

Carolyn Kinneen

I am writing this letter today to introduce you to the new director and co-directors of the Sitka Seafood Festival. I am so extremely excited with the potential of where this festival can go. If anyone gets the pleasure to meet our new directors, I think they will share in my enthusiasm, because these folks encompass what this festival is all about, and I think it can only get better from here!  The 2014 SSF Director is Carolyn Kinneen, along with co-directors Jeren Schmidt and Robert Kinneen.  All past board members, including myself, are staying active with the festival. 

Carolyn Kinneen is wife to our four-time returning guest chef Robert Kinneen, and has been active in the festival since the start. She currently lives in Anchorage, but with the help of our local co-director, Jeren Schmidt, should be a wonderful fit.  Carolyn works in many different areas of food-related advocacy and policy, and sits on multiple boards pertaining to Alaskan-based foods.  She has experience in running a large array of projects including the TEDx Anchorage lecture series, as well as the Alaska Food Policy Council

We are very excited to have Carolyn on board. If anyone would like to hear more about Carolyn, or pick her’s or any other board member’s brains about the future SSF, we will be holding an open “meet and greet” at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct 4, at Baranof Island Brewing Company (215 Smith St.).  Come say hello and welcome Carolyn, Rob and Jeren to their new positions, and feel free to pass along any suggestions, concerns or input you may have. 

Thank you for your continued support Sitka!  Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the 5th annual SSF Aug 1-2, 2014. And please attend our upcoming fundraiser, the Live Art Auction with the Fishermen’s Eye Gallery, at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct 5, at the Westmark Sitka Hotel.

— Alicia Haseltine, past SSF Director, current board member

• Scenes from the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2013 summer

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK Sitka Farmers Market Interim Manager Garrett Bauer, left, and Co-Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to to Peter Williams of Ata "Let Me See" Alaska (http://www.seaotterfur.com/) during the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the season on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Peter is a Yup'ik  (Ata is Yup'ik for let me see) who sells handmade garments made sea otter fur, the softest and densest fur on earth. Peter has been selling at the Sitka Farmers Markets for a couple of years. He received a gift bag with fresh produce, fand a certificate and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the sixth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. Also, don't forget the Sitka Local Foods Network will host the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28 (registration at 10 a.m. and costume contest at 10:30 a.m.), with the start/finish line near St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral in downtown Sitka. The Running of the Boots is a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Some late-season vegetables and other items will be for sale at this event. Finally, don't forget to vote for the Sitka Local Foods Network in the 50 States for Good contest. We are Alaska's only finalist in the national contest, where 51 nonprofit organization finalists (one from each state and the District of Columbia) have a chance to win $10,000 from Tom's of Maine, which will award grants of $10,000 each to the top 15 vote-getters in an online vote. You can vote for us once each day through Oct. 15 by going to http://www.50statesforgood.com/ and following the instructions. We appreciate your support.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK
Sitka Farmers Market Interim Manager Garrett Bauer, left, and Co-Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to to Peter Williams of Ata “Let Me See” Alaska (http://www.seaotterfur.com/) during the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the season on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Peter is a Yup’ik (Ata is Yup’ik for let me see) who sells handmade garments made sea otter fur, the softest and densest fur on earth. Peter has been selling at the Sitka Farmers Markets for a couple of years. He received a gift bag with fresh produce, and a certificate and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the sixth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork.

SitkaFarmersMarketSignWe had glorious, sunny weather for the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2013 summer, on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

We had a decent crowd, with many people hanging out outside to listen to Slack Tide play. A slideshow with scenes from the sixth market is below.

Also, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the 19th annual Running of the Boots, a costumed fun run that serves as a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Food Network. The Running of the Boots will be at 11 a.m. (registration at 10 a.m., costume contest about 10:30 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the tent near St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. (there is an entry fee of $5 per person or $20 for families). Some late-season vegetables will be available for sale at this event. To learn more, click this link for details.

Finally, don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Local Foods Network in the 50 States for Good contest. We are Alaska’s only finalist in the national contest, where 51 nonprofit organization finalists (one from each state and the District of Columbia) have a chance to win $10,000 from Tom’s of Maine, which will award grants of $10,000 each to the top 15 vote-getters in an online vote. You can vote for us once each day through Oct. 15 by going to http://www.50statesforgood.com/ and following the instructions. We appreciate your support.

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• Oktoberfest celebrates locally brewed beer, local foods

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Baranof Island Brewing Company, Sitka’s local brewery, will host an Oktoberfest celebration from 3-8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the BIBCO brewery at 201 Smith St. in Sitka.

The highlight of the event will be the 3 p.m. tapping of a special release Kristallweizen beer by Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell. There will be brewery tours from 3-5 p.m., as well as games, prizes and polka music. Baranof Island Brewing Company does make a root beer for people wanting a locally produced non-alcoholic libation. People are encouraged to wear liederhosen or dirndls to get in the Oktoberfest spirit. Oktoberfest t-shirts will be available for sale.

This event also will feature pulled pork sandwiches, smoked turkey legs and all-beef smoked sausages slathered in Sitka-produced Crackcorn Tysor’s BBQ, Sauces and Rubs. There also will be Alaska-produced reindeer meat hot dogs, Polish dogs, buffalo brats, and more from Sitka-owned Reindeer Redhots.

• Seventh annual Sitka Health Summit helps celebrate a culture of wellness in Sitka

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The seventh annual Sitka Health Summit is coming up, and this year’s event features health fair, lunch-and-learn, community planning day and community wellness awards.

This annual event got its start in 2007, when leaders from Sitka Community Hospital and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) got together to try and build bridges between their health organizations. Working with other partners, they created the Sitka Health Summit as a way to help improve the health culture in Sitka.

Summit_LogoThis year’s summit opens with the Sitka Community Health Fair, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Sweetland Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. This event features workers from the Alaska Health Fair Inc., who will provide a variety of medical tests such as cholesterol checks, glucose tests, vision screenings, flu shots, and more. It also includes informational booths from a variety of health-related programs in Sitka.

At noon on Monday, Sept. 23, at Kettleson Memorial Library will be a lunch-and-learn with Dr. Don Lehmann, a local physician and sports medicine specialist. He will give a brief talk called “Whistle While You Walk,” which will feature highlights about Sitka’s trail system. Participants can enter for a chance to win a set of walking sticks.

The “Community Planning Day: Selecting Sitka’s Wellness Goals” is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at Sweetland Hall. This all-day event is when members of the community get together and select two community wellness projects to work on this year. The two projects will receive $1,500 in seed money, plus facilitation to help get the project going. Last year’s three winning projects included the Sitka Downtown Revitalization project, Walk Sitka‘s work in applying for a Walk Friendly Communities award, and the Sitka Community Food Assessment. Some of the top projects from previous years include the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community award applications in 2008 and 2012, the Choose Respect mural at Blatchley Middle School to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence, the Sitka Outdoor Recreation Coalition’s Get Out, Sitka! project to get more families and kids outdoors, supporting the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center as a community resource, etc. There also have been several projects related to local foods, such as creating a Sitka Farmers Market, expanding community gardens and building a community greenhouse, planting dozens of fruit trees around town, promoting more local fish in school lunches, community composting,, and more. The first 65 people to RSVP will receive a free lunch (contact Clara Gray at clara.gray@searhc.org).

Finally, this year’s Sitka Community Wellness Champion Awards will be presented as part of the Monthly Grind at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi on Katlian Street. The awards are made in a variety of categories, such as physical fitness, nutrition, tobacco control and policy, holistic health, injury prevention, and general wellness.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 966-8734 or go to the Sitka Health Summit’s website at http://www.sitkahealthsummitak.org/.

• Registration deadline Wednesday, Sept. 18, for upcoming certified food protection manager workshop on Oct. 18

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Wednesday, Sept. 18, is the registration deadline for a certified food protection manager workshop being taught on Wednesday, Oct. 2, by University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. This is an all-day statewide class that will be offered live in Fairbanks and Palmer, and by videoconferencing to Sitka, Nome, Kodiak and Dillingham.

A certified food protection manager (CFPM) is responsible for monitoring and managing all food establishment operations to ensure that the facility is operating in compliance with food establishment regulations.

A CFPM is knowledgeable about food safety practices and uses this knowledge to provide consumers with safe food, protect public health and prevent food-borne illnesses. Alaska regulations require food establishments to have at least one CFPM on staff.

This course takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with a half-hour lunch), and participants will take a computer-based exam at the end of the class. The reason the deadline is two weeks before the class is to guarantee course materials reach all the students in time for the class. The cost is $175, and the course will be taught by Kate Idzorek of Fairbanks and Julie Cascio of Palmer. Students can register here.

The Sitka videoconference for the class will take place in Room 110 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. To learn more, contact the Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440, or contact Kate Idzorek at 907-474-5391 (toll-free, 1-877-520-5211) or kjidzorek@alaska.edu in Fairbanks.

• 19th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network

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It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and gussy them up. The 19th annual Running of the Boots begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the big tents near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. This year’s event features a new meeting point and course, allowing the race to be a bigger part of the End-of-Season Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association.

“I’m excited about the Running of the Boots joining the End-of-Season folks under one big tent … literally,” race organizer Kerry MacLane said. “We’ll have music, hot chocolate, and folks can enjoy a complimentary lunch after oodles of prizes have been awarded.”

So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” Sitkans wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers). The Running of the Boots raises funds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit organization that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners.

The Running of the Boots is a short race for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Other prize categories include best-dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and more. The new course starts by St. Michael’s Cathedral, and heads down Lincoln Street toward City Hall, takes a left on Harbor Drive and loops up Maksoutov Street and back to the starting line.

The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $5 per person and $20 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10 a.m. Costume judging starts about 10:30 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11 a.m. Local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest, including a flightseeing trip for three, toys, gift certificates and pies. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a Sitka Farmers Market booth with fresh veggies for sale. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Quest cards.

“This is a really fun way to advance the Sitka Farmers Market and our other Sitka Local Foods Network projects,” MacLane said. “This is a must-see annual change-of-the season tradition in Sitka.”

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-7888, or by email at maclanekerry@yahoo.com. Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/, and info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-12) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.  Also, like our new Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork.