The annual Salmon Festival is returning next weekend to Rocky Reach Dam - Sept. 21 through Sept. 23.  

The festival is meant to celebrate the return of salmon into the river system to spawn after years in the Pacific Ocean. 

Chinook salmon generally and can be seen spawning in the Wenatchee River from mid-September through October. 

Ricky Reach Dam Visitor Services Manager Kristin Lodge says, based on last year's numbers, there'll likely be several thousand visitors from across the region. 

"Last year, School Days brought 1,500 third and fourth graders from 75 classes in 34 schools from five counties," said Lodge. "And we're anticipating visitation on Saturday to be between 2,000 and 5,000 people." 

Salmon Festival moved to Rocky Reach Dam last year because of continued construction at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. 

It’s traditionally been at the Fish Hatchery but was canceled in 2020 and moved online in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

The festival is billed as a three-day natural resource education event. 

Thursday Sept. 21 and Friday Sept.22 are known as School Days for elementary students across the North Central Washington area. Saturday Sept. 23 is Community Day, when the entire public is invited. 

The 2023 theme is Salmon People. 

The Chelan PUD is organizing the River Ramble portion of the gathering, featuring a Native American village and cultural inter-tribal experience. 

Also, Natural resource specialists from around the Pacific Northwest will offer opportunities to learn more about fish, wildlife, healthy habitats and watersheds. 

In addition, there'll be a spotlight on dancing, drumming, & cultural presentations with pow wows, scheduled on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.  

The live entertainment schedule at Salmon Festival runs as follows: 

  • 10-11:45 a.m. Dancing/ Drumming (River Ramble Arena)
  • 11:45 a.m. Welcome (Main Stage) 
  • 12-1 p.m. Reptile Lady April Jackson (Main Stage) 
  • 1-2:30 p.m. Dancing/ Drumming (River Ramble Arena) 
  • 2:30-3:15 Live Music (Main Stage) 
  • 3:30-4:30 p.m. Reptile Lady, April Jackson (Main Stage) 

Activities and Exhibits are listed below: 

  • Natural resources and cultural exhibits 
  • Native American Village presented by Chelan PUD 
  • Salmon Maze 
  • Giant Fish Aquarium 
  • Sardis Raptor Center, “Hunters of the Sky” 
  • Gyotaku - Fish Printing 
  • Salmon-Bots with NCRL (sphero—coding) 
  • What’s that bird? 
  • Rolling rivers 
  • Raptors over the Wenatchee 

The Chelan PUD is supporting Salmon Festival, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration. 

Salmon Festival Community Day takes place Saturday Sept. 23 10am-5pm.


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