MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR CORDOVA’S Copper River WILD! Salmon Festival, set for July 15-16 in the coastal fishing community that offers unique events in a breathtaking atmosphere. The community of Cordova calls the festival an event to “celebrate the two things that sustain them year-round: salmon and art!”
“The festival started in an old cannery, progressed to a flat bed covered by a blue tarp and into what it is today, full-blown festival under the big tent,” said Alyssa Kleissler, Salmon Jam music coordinator. “The festival used to be a partnership between KCHU public radio and Cordova Arts & Pageants. Today the event includes an impressive amount of local sponsorship and over a dozen partners. What used to be put on by a crew of 10 volunteers has grown into a workforce of over 100 volunteers! We have musicians who come back every year to play at the Salmon Jam. People love that the festival is family friendly.”
The 14th annual event gets underway with food, music, running events and education for kids and families. Enjoy family fun at the Small Fry Kids Activities and marathon to 1-mile running events. In the evenings, indulge in some delicious Copper River salmon and live music at the Salmon Jam Music Festival. Proceeds benefit the Cordova Arts Council and support year-round cultural activities in Cordova.
The Taste of Cordova event, set at Mount Eyak Ski Area, features some of Alaska’s best new salmon dishes. Anyone can enter or sample dishes in this Copper River salmon and wild food cook-off featuring a variety of creative and delicious dishes. Winning entries from past years include saffron shitake risotto salmon swirls, wild berry trifle, and black licorice glazed sockeye.
“We are graced with many creative cooks in town who find inspiration in our local ingredients,” said Kristin Carpenter, who helps coordinate the festival’s races. “Salmon sushi with low-bush cranberry wasabi dipping sauce, and a salmon Jell-O mold are just a few examples.” Salmon Festival,
The Salmon Jam music festival also is a hit. It features a beer garden stocked with Alaska-made brews and an array of varietal wines as well as delicious food featuring Copper River salmon. Bobby Walker & the Roadsters return to perform as well as Big Fat Buddha from Anchorage and Aloha Bluegrass Band from Hawaii.
The Alaska Salmon Runs, set for July 16, include the King Salmon Marathon, Sockeye Half Marathon, Coho 10K, Smolt 5K and a 1-mile fun run/walk. “Runners of all abilities come out for this day of running, so we have everyone from people running for time, people running their first marathon, and families and friends on the course together,” Carpenter said. “Most marathoners are from out of town — we have 18 marathoners and 25 half-marathoners signed up so far, and typically most Cordovans run or walk the 10K and the 5K.”
The scenery alone is worth the entry fee. Runners take in the fantastic scenery along the Copper River delta course – mile after mile of mountains, glaciers, blue water lakes and wildlife. Massage tables await them after the race, and a wild salmon barbecue at the end of the day celebrates the achievements of all walkers and runners.
“Cordova is rich in salmon and rich in art, and this festival showcases it all,” Kleissler said. “I tell people it’s a great time to visit Cordova – great music, fun atmosphere, delicious food, even in the rain.”
A free shuttle runs throughout the weekend to help guests to and from festival grounds. For more travel info, visit copperriverwild.org.
— Melissa DeVaughn