About the Festival
Issaquah's Salmon Days Festival is an annual event held the first weekend of October. For more information see the "ohfishal" festival web site.
Go Northwest! pages on:
Index of Go Northwest! travel articles.
About the Author
Anne High is a native of Australia who resides in the Northwest.
Submit an Article
We always want to hear from people who travel or live in the Northwest. Submit your own original work to Go Northwest! See our Guidelines for writers.
The salmon are returning! And so predictable are these creatures that a community can set up streets-full of stalls and information booths, arrange bus shuttles, stage a parade and many other activities, and organize a salmon bake to feed multitudes. All to greet the returning salmon.
Issaquah's Salmon Days Festival, is a great family outing for locals, and a quintessential northwest experience for visitors. It currently attracts over 200,000 festival goers. Dad's can exchange fishing stories, mum's can buy crafts and kids can be stimulated by the "Field of Fun". All can enjoy a northwest version of fair cuisine, including the Kiwanis Salmon Bake, berries and cream, kettle korn and funnel cakes. And of course all can learn more about the salmon.
Downtown Issaquah proudly encompasses the Washington State Salmon Hatchery. The hatchery is sited on Issaquah Creek and the salmon can swim all the way to the holding tanks.
Visitors can follow the salmon as they complete the final stage of their journey. The salmon half-wriggle, half-swim up the shallow creek. Part of the fascination for the onlooker is seeing such large fish in such shallow water. The salmon make their way up the fish ladder and into the holding tanks. These have large viewing windows where visitors can come eye-to-eye with these determined creatures. Such is the instinctual drive to return to their place of origin, that some individuals, mistaking the direction of the ladder, will leap with shocking force into the overhead bars.
Don't be fooled by the festival atmosphere - this is nature in the raw. Emaciated and even decomposing due to freshwater bacteria, these creatures are in the process of giving up their lives for the next generation. A closer look through the holding tank windows will reveal many individuals with gruesome wounds.
The females are searching for gravel in which to lay their eggs which can then be fertilized by the males. But this is a hatchery and the holding tank with its bare concrete floor is the end of the line. The fish can only mill about futilely. Given the strength of desire that brought the salmon this far, it is hard not to see the removal of their goal as harsh deprivation.
Such pondering reveals that when watching the return of the salmon it is hard not to identify with their struggle and singularity of purpose and perceive a kind of heroism in their effort. It is certainly a powerful living symbol of determination and self-sacrifice.
No wonder the people, like the salmon, return year after year.
Best selection of books on the Northwest.
Moon Washington, 9th Edition by Ericka Chickowski. From urban cities to rural towns, this native gives an insider's perspective on everything the Evergreen State has to offer featuring great places to eat, scenic drives and volunteer vacations. Discover Seattle's arts and culture, climbing Mt. Rainier, sleeping in a train car near Elbe and much more. Order now...
Weird Washington: Your Travel Guide to Washington's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. by Jefferson Davis and Al Eufrasio. An offbeat journey through Washington's hidden history, macabre mysteries, funky folklore, and strange sights. From Sasquatch to Stonehenge, from ghosts to Goddess Kring, it's a trip you won't soon forget! Order now...
The Photographer's Guide to the Puget Sound & Northwest Washington: Where to Find the Perfect Shots and How to Take Them. by Rod Barbee. his is a year-round guide for anyone looking to capture the rare beauty of northwestern Washington. 5 maps, full-color throughout. Order now...
Frommer's Washington State, 7th Edition by Karl Samson. This expert author tells you where to find great places to stay in every price range, the best outdoor recreation and much more. Utilize the planning tools to maximize your next adventure in the Evergreen State. Order now...
Seattle City Guide by Becky Ohlsen. Get the view of your dreams from the charmingly retro Space Needle Search for the troll in Fremont and find more oddities than you bargained for Dig out your leathers and be one of the cool kids in Georgetown Try a slice of cherry pie and discover the Salish Lodge's cult-TV connection. Order now...
Go Northwest!® gonorthwest.com (tm)
gonorthwest.com (tm) and GoNorthwest.com (tm) are trademarks of Go
All original text, maps, photographs, and other images on this web site, as well as the compilation and design thereof, are
Copyright © 1997-2015 Go Northwest, LLC. All rights reserved.