Sitka Seafood Festival returns Aug. 10-19 after spending a year in hiatus

After spending a year in hiatus, the Sitka Seafood Festival returns Aug. 10-19 with a wide variety of events as Sitka celebrates its local seafood culture.

“Southeast Alaska is an amazing place, and the Sitka Seafood Festival is going to be a great opportunity to bring our community together to celebrate it,” Sitka Seafood Festival coordinator Emma Edson said. “There are a lot of great minds coming together to make it happen. It’ll be a lot of fun, and it’s all for a good cause.”

The Sitka Seafood Festival began in 2009 through the work of volunteers, and became its own nonprofit in 2012. But in 2016, organizers decided they needed to take a break.

The rekindled Sitka Seafood Festival now is sponsored by the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust and the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. The proceeds from the festival will benefit the Young Fishermen’s Initiative, which helps young Alaskans get into the fishing industry with financing for permits and boats, deck hand apprenticeships, and policy programs.

“Central to the mission of the Sitka Seafood Festival (SSF), as well as the mission of Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, is the belief that Alaska needs a vibrant and sustainable fishing industry supporting economically empowered and self-sufficient Alaska communities,” said Willow Moore, ASFT’s executive director. “Also, no one knows good seafood (and where to find it) like Alaskans. The Sitka Seafood Festival celebrates the fishing culture and heritage that local economies (and plates and palates) depend on, and the unique ecosystems of Southeast Alaska that sustain our local fish and families as they grow.”

In addition to the two host organizations, there are several partner groups hosting activities, such as ArtChange Inc., the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society, Sitka Film Society, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Sitka Local Foods Network, the Sitka Kitch, and Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

The main festival day is Saturday, Aug. 12, when there are vendor and food booths plus a variety of fun and games events at Crescent Harbor Shelter. Knot-tying games open the event at 9 a.m., followed by kids games at 10 a.m., the vendor market from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., older kids games from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a dock walk from noon to 1 p.m., tote races at 1 p.m., and the wild fishermen’s triathlon (which includes fish tote races and other obstacles) at 3 p.m.

Other highlights from this year’s event schedule include a pre-festival screening of the movie “Jaws” on Aug. 6 at the Coliseum Theater; Sitka Tells Tales hosting “Wet Feet: Stories On, In, Under, or Of the Sea” on Aug. 10 at the Beak Restaurant; seafood trivia on Aug. 11 at the Mean Queen; a lecture by Iñupiaq mask carver Erin Katherine Gingrich on Aug. 12 at the Sheldon Jackson Museum; a screening of the film “The Salmon Forest” on Aug. 14 at the Mean Queen; a class on filleting salmon on Aug. 15 at the Sitka Kitch; a class on canning salmon on Aug. 16 at the Sitka Kitch; a film screening of an ocean and fisheries documentary TBA on Aug. 17 at the Coliseum Theater; a “Coming to America: Invasive Species, Ocean Rafting, and Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris” lecture on Aug. a8 at the Sitka Sound Science Center; a walk about the docks on Aug. 19; an ocean treasures family day Aug. 19 at the Japonski Island Boat House; and a fish skin sewing class taught by Joel Isaak from Aug. 22-30 at the Sheldon Jackson Museum.

Don’t forget the Sitka Local Foods Network is hosting a Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 12 at the ANB Founders Hall, and another one at the same time on Aug. 19. So make time to attend both events.

The 2017 Sitka Seafood Festival grand finale will come with the Young Fishermen’s Expo and Season’s End Banquet, taking place in early November at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

For more information about the Sitka Seafood Festival, go to http://www.sitkaseafoodfestival.com, or call 747-3400.

• Scenes from the 2015 Sitka Seafood Festival events held Saturday, Aug. 8

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ssflogo2There were tote races, a parade, a marathon/half-marathon, food booths, live music, canning classes, salmon-head bobbing, halibut-head tossing, the Sitka Highland Games, and scores of other events Saturday during the sixth annual Sitka Seafood Festival at Sheldon Jackson Campus.

There also was nice weather — a little cloudy with light rain for the marathon/half-marathon, followed by warm sunny weather for the tote races, parade, and marketplace events later in the day.

A few scenes from the 2015 Sitka Seafood Festival are in a slideshow below.

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• Schedule firming up for 2015 Sitka Seafood Festival on Aug. 7-8

salmon boat header

ssflogo2While the official schedule for the 2015 Sitka Seafood Festival still hasn’t been posted on the event’s website at the Sheldon Jackson Campus, the schedule is firming up.

The Friday night, Aug. 7, Sitka Seafood Festival Extravaganza banquet is close to selling out, so if you haven’t gone online to reserve your tickets you better do it now. Tickets are $65 each for this special seafood dinner event (cooked by guest chefs) at Allen Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus, but there are only a handful left. This event starts at 6:30 p.m. and will feature a variety of seafood dishes prepared by guest chefs Caleb France of Indianapolis, Dave Thorne of Anchorage, Rob Kinneen of Anchorage, Jeren Schmidt of Sitka, and SSF culinary scholarship winner Adam Kanayurak. Don’t forget to get your VIP cocktail hour tickets ($35) from 5:30-6:30 p.m., too.

OK, got your banquet tickets? Here is information on the other events.

Sitka cooks can participate in the banquet by entering the dessert contest, which will feature cakes, cupcakes and pies (no refrigerated desserts, please). The desserts will be auctioned off at the banquet, and the top desserts will receive prizes. Rules and entry forms are at the link above. The entry forms must be submitted by Wednesday, Aug. 5. For more information, contact contest coordinator Megan Pasternak at 738-2290 or mwpstnk@ptialaska.net.

As usual, the bulk of the sixth annual Sitka Seafood Festival events take place on Saturday (Aug. 8, this year). The fish tote races usually start at 11 a.m. at Crescent Harbor, with the parade following afterward from Crescent Harbor to the Sheldon Jackson Campus.

The Sitka Seafood Festival Marketplace opens at noon, and this year all of the booths will be outdoors on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. The booths usually stay open until 6 p.m., but some may close earlier if they run out of product. You can find out more information about hosting a booth here.

highland gamesIn addition to the marketplace, there will be kids games on the lawn, live music and other entertainment until 5 p.m., and the Sitka Highland Games until 6 p.m. The highland games participants already are practicing their events, and potential participants can check out the Sitka Highland Games group on Facebook for practice times (usually 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, depending on weather and work schedules).

There will be other events announced over the next week or two, and some may happen on Thursday, Aug. 6, or Sunday, Aug. 9.

The festival also is looking for volunteers to help prior, during and after the festival. There are countless ways to help, such as kitchen help, banquet help, parade, contests, games, highland games, booths, tent set-up and take down, stage help for bands and cooking demos, etc. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Alicia Olson Haseltine at alaska_al33@hotmail.com. For more info on the festival, go to http://www.sitkaseafoodfestival.org.

 

• Sitka Seafood Festival offers culinary scholarship and paid internship opportunity

culinary scholarship description

Scholarship 2015Are you a budding chef from Sitka who’d like an opportunity to work with some top-notch chefs from around the country? The Sitka Seafood Festival is offering its culinary scholarship and paid internship again for 2015. The application deadline is Monday, June 22.

This $500 scholarship will be awarded to an individual interested in pursuing the culinary arts. The program includes the opportunity to work with renowned chefs for 3-5 days, a $500 stipend for three days of work, letters of recommendation from Sitka Seafood Festival staff for future career moves, and recognition to the community during the Sitka Seafood Festival community banquet on Friday, Aug. 7. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community of Sitka.

This year’s guest chefs haven’t been announced yet. But last year the executive guest chef was Caleb France, with returning guest chefs Seth Caswell from Seattle, Mickey Neely from Chicago, Robert Kinneen from Anchorage, and Jeren Schmidt from Sitka.

This year’s Sitka Seafood Festival takes place on Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 6-9, with a variety of activities around Sitka. This year’s event schedule hasn’t been announced yet, but typically there is a community banquet featuring a variety of local seafood on Friday night, while Saturday’s activities include fish-tote races at Crescent Harbor, a parade down Lincoln Street, Scottish Highland Games at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, live music, cooking demonstrations, and a variety of food, informational and artist booths in the marketplace at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

For more information, go to the Sitka Seafood Festival website, or contact the festival at sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com. You also can contact Alicia Haseltine at (928) 607-4845.

• Click here for a detailed description of the SSF Scholarship program.

• Click here for an application to the SSF Scholarship program.

• Sitka Seafood Festival offers culinary scholarship and paid internship opportunity

culinary scholarship description

The application deadline for the Sitka Seafood Festival culinary scholarship and paid internship is Friday, June 20.

This $500 scholarship will be awarded to an individual interested in pursuing the culinary arts. The program includes the opportunity to work with renowned chefs for 3-5 days, a $500 stipend for three days of work, letters of recommendation from Sitka Seafood Festival staff for future career moves, and recognition to the community during the Sitka Seafood Festival community banquet on Aug. 1 at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community of Sitka.

Caleb France BioThis year’s executive guest chef is Caleb France, with returning guest chefs Seth Caswell from Seattle, Mickey Neely from Chicago, Robert Kinneen from Anchorage, and Jeren Schmidt from Sitka.

This year’s Sitka Seafood Festival takes place on Friday-Saturday, Aug. 1-2, with a variety of activities around Sitka. In addition to the community banquet featuring local seafood on Friday night, Saturday’s activities include fish-tote races at Crescent Harbor, a parade down Lincoln Street, Scottish Highland Games at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, live music, cooking demonstrations, and a variety of food, informational and artist booths in the marketplace at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

For more information, go to the Sitka Seafood Festival website, or contact the festival at sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com. You also can contact Alicia Haseltine at (928) 607-4845.

• Click here for a detailed description of the SSF Scholarship program.

• Click here for an application to the SSF Scholarship program.

• Running of the Boots raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network

It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and gussy them up. The 17th annual Running of the Boots takes place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Crescent Harbor shelter. And this year people who “Bike to the Boots” can receive a free bike safety check before the race.

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 non-profit group 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.

Participants line up behind the Running of the Boots banner before the start of the race

Participants line up behind the Running of the Boots banner before the start of the race

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 course involves a run from Crescent Harbor to the corner of Katlian and Lincoln streets and back, with a short course for kids looping around St. Michael’s Cathedral. 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. There is a lip synch contest after the race, which costs $10 to enter. Local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume and lip synch contests, including a new pair of XtraTufs. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a Sitka Farmers Market booth with fresh veggies for sale. Grilled black cod and crépes also will be available.

The “Bike to the Boots” event was added this year as part of the national 350.org “Moving Planet: A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels” event on Sept. 24 promoting community sustainability. A bike station will be set up at 10 a.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter, and people can pump air into their tires, oil their chains, get a safety check, receive info about bicycle safety rules and more. There also will be booths about Sitka environmental issues, the importance of local food and how to reduce our use of fossil fuels.

Runners hit the trail during the 14th Annual Running of the Boots race on Sept. 27, 2008, in Sitka.

“This is a really fun way to advance the Sitka Farmers Market and our other Sitka Local Foods Network projects,” Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Kerry MacLane said. “The ‘Bike to the Boots’ event will add a fun new twist to the Running of the Boots, while helping remind people about how much fossil fuel is used to bring food to Sitka from thousands of miles away.”

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or by e-mail 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 (2008-10) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

• 2011 Running Of The Boots flier (feel free to print this PDF and hang copies around town)

• Second Annual Sitka Seafood Festival celebrates our local bounty from the sea

The second annual Sitka Seafood Festival takes place on Friday and Saturday, May 20-21, at Harrigan Centennial Hall and Crescent Harbor.

The festival opens at 6 p.m. on Friday with the opening banquet dinner at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This event features a formal  atmosphere  with  various  local  chefs  collaborating,  each showcasing  a  separate  course. It also  introduces  our  guest  chefs —  Louisa  Chu,  chef  and writer  from  Chicago,  and  our  returning  guest  chef  Robert Kinneen  from  Anchorage.  There will be a live  music  performance  by  Ray  Troll  and  the  Rat  Fish  Wranglers  during  dinner,  as  well as  a  silent  auction  and  other entertainment. Tickets  are available  at  Old  Harbor  Books  for  $50.

The fun continues on Saturday, with a full schedule of events at Harrigan Centennial  Hall,  Crescent  Harbor  Shelter  and  back  parking  area. Events include:

  • 11 AM: Maritime-themed  parade
  • Vendor  booths  including  food,  educational  and  entertainment  booths,  kids  games  and prizes,  knot  tying  classes,  beer  garden,  live  music  by  many  local  bands,  or  anyone interested  in  showcasing  seafood/maritime-related  items  (for more  info,  contact Christi Wuerker at 738-9047)
  • Kids  and  adult  art  workshop  with  Ray  Troll  (limited  number of openings,  to  sign  up,  call  Alicia Olson at 928-607-4845)
  • GingerLee, Aerial  silk  dancer  performances by Jenn Perry
  • USCG  Aids  to  Navigation  Team  vessel  tours
  • Local  New Archangel Russian  dance  and  Naa  Kahídi  Tlingít dance  performances
  • US Coast  Guard  helicopter  rescue  demonstration
  • Cooking  demonstration  by  guest  chef  Louisa  Chu
  • Fish-filleting  demos  on  the  hour,  every  hour  starting  at  noon,  as  well  as  rockfish  identifying contests
  • Fish-head-tossing  contest,  tote  races,  crab  races  and  fish-head-bobbing  contests
  • 5-6PM:  Fish  Poetry  at  Kettleson  Memorial Library (More  info:  Jeff  Budd at  the  Greater  Sitka  Arts  Council)
  • 8-11PM:  Live  music  and  dance  with  Ray  Troll  and  the  Ratfish  Wranglers  opening  and  the headliner  band  Wicked  Tinkers  (Tickets  $20  at  Old  Harbor  Books:  more  info  available through  Sitka  Folk)

To learn more, go to  http://www.sitkaseafoodfestival.org/,  or  contact  Alicia  Olson at  928- 607-4845 or by e-mail  at sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com.