LITTLE HARVEST – First-grader Taylor McCarty, 6, holds up a slightly deformed carrot at the Russian Bishop’s House garden this morning (Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017). Students in Sarah Eddy’s Baranof Elementary School class and other first graders were harvesting the vegetables they planted in the spring when they were in kindergarten. This summer was not good for growing crops said Sitka National Historical Park Ranger Ryan Carpenter. Most of the carrots were only about an inch or so long. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)
Spring is right around the corner in Sitka, and nothing says spring in Sitka like the arrival of the herring. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska‘s third annual Sitka Herring Festival kicks off on Friday, March 18, with a month of fantastic event for adults and kids alike.
This year the festival kicks off at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 18, with the Blessing of Herring Rock (Yaaw T’eiyí) in front of the Sheet’ka Kwáan Naa Kahídi. Herring Rock is a cultural landmark of the Kiks.ádi clan, and a member of the clan leads this annual ceremony. Please note this event date and time have changed since first announced.
For those kids who like a little competition, there’s the Sitka Herring Derby. As in previous years, the Herring Derby will be a fun event for kids and parents. The Derby starts on Saturday, March 19, and continues through Saturday, April 9. Weigh your biggest fish every day (from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday) at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Resources Production Office at 429 Katlian Street. May the best (biggest) fish win. The awards ceremony will be April 12 at Blatchley Community Swim Pool.
Also on Saturday, March 19, is a herring-themed Discovery Days program at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Discovery Days is a youth educational program from 10 a.m. to noon that meets every other Saturday, and this event will feature Sitka Herring Festival coordinator Jessica Gill discussing the life cycle of herring.
The Sitka Whalefest and Sitka Sound Science Center will host the annual food web cruise fundraiser for the Whalefest from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 26. This is an Allen Marine harbor cruise that usually features some of the best whale-watching of the spring. The cost is $55 per person, which includes a light breakfast spread. Tickets are available at Old Harbor Books.
This year’s Wearable Arts Show, sponsored by the Greater Sitka Arts Council, will feature a new attraction as local artists team up to dedicate a piece about the growing problem of waste in our oceans.
On April 1, is the ArtiGras Art Walk and logos are due for local high school students to submit their Sitka Herring Festival logo designs. In addition to the usual art found in Sitka galleries and businesses during the art walk (hosted by the Greater Sitka Arts Council), the Sheet’ka Kwáan Naa Kahídi will host a variety of community artists and herring dishes from around the world from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, April 1.
Also like last year, Sitka Community Schools will host the Herring Fun Run. The run will start at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, and will feature a couple of loops of the totem trails at Sitka National Historical Park. Herring swim in schools, so bring your friends.
The Sitka Herring Festival community potluck is from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, at Sweetland Hall at the Sheldon Jackson Campus. Bring a dish to share. The guest speaker, Ilona Kemp-Noordeloos, is a PhD. student at University of Alaska Fairbanks who will give the presentation, “Herring and the Human Element in the Bristol Bay Fisheries.”
More info for all these events can be found online at http://sitkaherringfestival.wordpress.com or at the festival’s Facebook page. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 747-7168 for info.
CABBAGE PATCH KIDS — Baranof Elementary School first-grader Alice Ann Ricketts, 6, carries a cabbage out of the Russian Bishop’s House garden Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. First-graders were harvesting the vegetables they planted last spring when they were kindergartners during the annual event. Teachers and students were planning on making a soup with their harvested vegetables. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson, this photo appeared on Page 1 of the Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, edition)
PLANTING A GARDEN: Sitka National Historical Park volunteer gardener Pam Vanderweele helps Baranof Elementary School kindergartner Arianna Moctezuma-Hernandez, 6, plant peas in the Russian Bishop’s House garden on a recent sunny morning. The kindergartners will return to the historical garden in the fall when they are in the first grade to harvest the crops and cook them in a soup. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)
You feel it in the air; you see it in the lengthening days; you smell it with the changing tides. That’s right, herring season (and Spring!) is right around the corner. And with the arrival of the herring comes the Sitka Tribe of Alaska‘s second annual Sitka Herring Festival, a month of fantastic event for adults and kids alike.
First, for the adults. This year, we’ve been able to bring an excellent speaker from Stonybrook University in New York thanks to a generous donation from Sealaska. At the community potluck from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, at Harrigan Centennial Hall, Dr. Ellen Pikitch will present on herring management and conservation throughout the world. Dr. Pikitch was one of the leading scientists on the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, is a pioneer in ocean conservation, and is a leader in ecosystem-based management of fisheries. This event will be a potluck style, so please bring a dish to share. We’re very excited to have her here during the herring season.
In addition to the community potluck, there will be a talk at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus from Dr. Shingo Hamada. Dr. Hamada is an anthropologist at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan. His talk will be on Herring Fisheries and Food Culture in Japan. Mark your calendars for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 23, in UAS Sitka Campus Room 218. This is a partnership from the Natural History Seminar Series with UAS and the Sitka Sound Science Center. All are welcome, but be sure to bring your questions.
But what would a festival be without fun activities for the kids? This year’s festival will also include Yaa Khusgé Yaaw Woogoo — The Knowledge of Herring Camp, hosted by the Sitka School District and the Outdoor Foundation, in partnership with Sitka Tribe of Alaska and Sitka National Historical Park. This is a free, hands-on spring break camp connecting kids to culture that will take place from March 16-20 at Sitka National Historical Park. Middle school youth (grades 6-8) are welcome and encouraged to participate in this free camp. More information can be found at Sitka National Historical Park. Feel free to or pick up an application at the main office of STA or at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center.
For those who like a little competition, there’s the Herring Derby and the Herring Run. Like last year, the Herring Derby will be a fun event for kids and parents. The Derby starts on Friday, March 20, and continues through Monday, April 6. Weigh your biggest fish every day (from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday) at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Resources Production Office at 429 Katlian Street. May the best (biggest) fish win. Also like last year, Sitka Community Schools will host the Herring Run. The run will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 4, at Harrigan Centennial Hall and will wind through the Totem Park trails before returning to Centennial Hall. Herring swim in schools, so bring your friends.
There will be more fun and educational events during the Festival, including a 4-H class through Sitka Conservation Society, Herring in the Hallway at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, Discovery Days at the Sitka Sound Science Center, and the showing of a herring film showing at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 27, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, at the Sitka National Historical Park For the dancers among us, there will also be a Herring Hop from 6-11 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Fellowship Hall. The Herring Hop is a fundraiser for the Cape Decision Lighthouse Society. The Herring Festival will also feature a Food Web Cruise on Saturday, March 21, as a fundraiser for another fantastic festival, the Sitka Whalefest.
The Sitka School District and the Outdoor Foundation, in partnership with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and Sitka National Historical Park, will host a free, week-long marine science and culture camp during spring break, March 16-20, for 20 sixth-grade, middle-school students. (NOTE: On Feb. 23, this program was opened up to all middle school students, grades 6-8, and the priority deadline was extended to March 6.)
Yaa Khusgé Yaaw Woogoo — Knowledge-of-Herring Camp — provides students the chance to explore the cultural and ecological importance of herring in a hands-on camp. Participants will use cutting-edge technology while working with renowned marine ecologist Michelle Ridgway to study Pacific herring in the field and in the lab. Students who participate in the camp will gain valuable experience conducting scientific research and will gain a deeper understanding of the critical role herring play in Southeast Alaska’s marine ecosystem, as well as the cultural significance of this keystone species.
Daily camp activities will include observing herring and other marine wildlife during marine field trips, conducting research throughout Sitka Sound and in the lab, learning about herring’s cultural significance from Native elders and culture bearers, exploring Sitka’s coastline to learn about critical herring habitat and using advanced scientific technology. Each daily session, held from 12:30-5:30 p.m., will conclude with a presentation or field activity lead by scientists, Native elders or local herring experts.
Applications are available at the Sitka National Historical Park visitors center, 106 Metlakatla St., at Blatchley Middle School, or they can be downloaded at http://www.nps.gov/sitk. All applicants must be in the sixth grade. Interested participants should submit an application by Feb. 20 to receive priority consideration. Completed applications should be returned to staff at Sitka National Historical Park’s visitor center. The hours of operation for the visitor center are Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For additional information, please contact Ryan Carpenter at 747-0121.
BIG HARVEST – Baranof Elementary School first-grader Marley Bayne, 6, holds up a large carrot and a beet next to the Russian Bishop’s House garden Wednesday. The entire first-grade class harvested the vegetables they helped plant in the spring when they were kindergartners. This year’s growing season was especially good for the garden crops, which children are using to make soup in class. Sitka National Historical Park rangers organize the gardening activities with the help of school staff and parent volunteers. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo By James Poulson)