Salmon Fest Community Days are for everyone!
Since it’s inception in 1991, thousands of attendees from across Washington State have enjoyed a day of Natural Resources “Edu”-tainment at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (until 2020, which was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic). From salmon-centric activities like the popular 40 x 40 foot Salmon Maze, to the meticulously crafted Native American Village complete with a traditional canoe, salmon bake, and drumming and dancing, to arts & crafts, and outdoor recreation like archery and a climbing wall. There’s something fun for everyone!
The Festival continues to remain true to its natural resource education mission while updating and augmenting activities to keep the messages fresh, timely and engaging. In response, the event has become nationally recognized for its educational excellence. See some of our most treasured Awards.
As always, the event is free of charge to the public and is made possible by the many supporting agencies and organizations, 100’s of volunteers, and a dedicated core team of event organizers.
Below is a list of activities, exhibits, outdoor recreation, live entertainment, plus schedules, maps and more from the 2019 event.
Activities & Exhibits
Take a look at these fun activities that are typically planned throughout the day. This tentative list will continue to be updated as we near the festival.
Many agencies and organizations share information through hands-on, interactive activities like Cascadia Conservation District, Yakama Nation Fisheries, Bureau of Land Management, Washington State Parks, and Wolf Haven, just to name a few.
Chelan PUD hosts an extraordinary Native American Village at Salmon Fest. Representatives from over 12 tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest have been present. This part of the event is so special, it has it’s own page! Learn more.
It’s a cultural education experience and provides a valuable opportunity for native peoples of all ages to come together to share their traditions and experiences.
Some of the hands-on highlights include:
– drumming & dancing
– atlatl and other traditional games
– flint knapping
– plateau fishing demos
– canoe carving
– basket weaving
– salmon bake
In this 40 by 40 foot barrier-free maze, students experience the many challenges of aquatic life and migration when they discover themselves as salmon, hatching and struggling to survive. They meet predators along the way as they go through the salmon’s amazing life cycle.
Gaze through the waters and become eye to eye with our local freshwater fish. Learn more about why fish look the way they do and how to identify them. Knowledgeable fish biologists are even on-hand to answer your questions.
How did hatcheries raise fish over 50 years ago? Find out in the Hatchery History Exhibit inside the nursery.
Discover what a butterfly looks like through a microscope and go on a garden scavenger hunt!
View live raptors while learning about the “Hunters of the Sky” with Sardis Raptor Center. What do raptors eat? How high can they fly? What do they do in the winter? Drop in with your questions about owls, hawks, eagles, falcons and more and see them live, up close!
Join Salmon Fest’s Art Director to celebrate salmon through a new annual community art project every year.
Be sure to check out the separate annual display created by local artists on the sidewalk in front of the Visitor Center. These artists show their talent with amazing and colorful depictions of life in the wild using just a box of chalk and imagination. Check out the annual Chalk Art Gallery for pictures from previous years and if you’re an artist, considering signing up!
Pronounced “Gee-oh-tak-oo”. Learn the external anatomy of a fish then apply paint and carefully press paper over it for a colorful print in the same manner that Japanese fishermen once recorded their daily catch, by making a fish rubbing (gyo=fish, taku=rubbing).
A family favorite – an hourly parade on the main street with Little ones dressed up in colorful animal costumes.
Take a guided hatchery tour led by a fish culturist and learn about the salmon’s life cycle, see live salmon eggs, and more.
Learn how to use computer code to program a salmon robot up a river to it’s spawning grounds.
Join the Audubon Society to search high and low for life-like wooden bird models. Learn skills to help identify birds that you can see right here in North Central Washington.
Learn-through-playing in a giant sandbox! This hands-on interactive watershed modeling activity is a unique learning experience, in which participants learn the fundamental elements of a healthy and properly functioning watershed and then use that knowledge to create ideal Salmon habitat.
Get your photo taken with your friends and family, as a school of fish!
Fun for all ages!
The following is a list of outdoor recreation providers and opportunities that have been available in years past at Salmon Fest. This is meant both for reference as most return year after year, and to give you an idea of how many activities have typically been available.
The local club Bavarian Boondockers will have the coolest and latest in snowmobiling and all terrain vehicles on exhibit. They have all the information you need on the best places for both winter and summer “off road” travel in our community and will have some unique vehicles on display – a must see for the outdoor enthusiast!
The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office will share important information on outdoor and home preparedness, and what they do when emergencies or disasters occur.
Try out your hands and feet on the 24 ft. tall climbing wall with Climb for Fun. Well known in the Leavenworth area, they present a safe, top notch activity – and it’s free at Salmon Fest!
Meet representatives of the Seattle Coast Guard Auxiliary and take part in an activity that teaches the boating and water safety. Great for all ages and very informative for anyone that loves water recreation!
Learn the basics of disc golf and play a multi-basket course, courtesy of the Leavenworth Disc Golf Club. Try to throw the disc in the basket, learn what grip to use and the correct ways to throw it to maximize accuracy and distance. Discs are available for use. Join Andy Jaynes and the Leavenworth Disc Golf Team and check out the up and coming popular sport of disc golf (also known as frisbee golf).
Dave Graybill, the “Fishin’ Magician”, will display his latest fishing boat. This year it is a Kingfisher 1925 Discovery from Bob Feil Boats & Motors in East Wenatchee. It’s outfitted for fishing our region with all the bells and whistles! Visit Dave and ask him ANYTHING about fishing!
Check out LOC’s equipment and options for enjoying the water activities around the Upper Wenatchee Valley. Try to cast the lure through the target and win a prize while you’re there!
Make a splash by creating your own Salmon Hat while you check out the display of rafts, kayaks and paddleboards and view whitewater rafting videos filmed locally!
Rick Graybill is very well known for his knowledge of North Central Washington fishing. Rick has written three guidebooks, guided fishing for over 15 years, and now passes on his fishing secrets at Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee, Washington. Rick will give two talks and demo select equipment.
Chelan and Douglas Counties’ RiverCom 911 provides this important emergency service. For increased effectiveness, they’ll explain what to expect and how to explain your situation when you dial 911. Great information for both kids and adults!
Traditional Bow Hunters of Washington is a non-profit organization that promotes the use of traditional equipment for bow hunting and archery. Venture out to the field beyond Icicle Creek and try your hand at shooting a traditional bow!
The WDFW Cougar and Bear Safety program will demonstrate the skills of Karelian Bear dogs and talk about cougar and bear safety in and around your homes. A fun and exciting demo!
Learn the basics of fly casting with the experts! Fly rods provided – with plenty of space to try casting!
Dedicated to the conservation and preservation of wildlife and enhancement of habitat, the Wenatchee Sportsmen’s Association is a major sponsor of the Outdoor Recreation portion of the festival.
Wenatchee Valley Fly Fishers have all the material and instruction to provide fly-tying instruction. Learn about the different types of flies, the hooks being used, and the types of feathers and other materials necessary for fly-tying.
How do fish get around dams and how are they moved from place to place when necessary? Check out the Whooshh Innovations team as they demonstrate live fish transport and fish passage. Watch water shoot objects up and over an obstacle, quickly firing through an 80ft. tube from one end to the other. Ask the experts about this fascinating way to move fish!
Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition, Wenatchee River Ranger District, Columbia Breaks Interpretive Center and Washington State Department of Natural Resources come together to educate the public about being “fire wise” with hands on activities, preparedness handouts, equipment displays, photos, narratives and more. Based on Landscape, Response and Community, learn about how human caused fire can be prevented how to be prepared, and how wildfire is managed through the cooperation of a variety of partners.
Attendees have enjoyed acts from the ever-popular “Reptile Man,” live musicians, and participated in the tribal parade with dancing, drumming, and storytelling. Shows and performances typically take place on the Main Stage at Hatchery Park. The 2021 schedule will be released once finalized.
2019 Performance Schedule:
12:00- 12:15pm – Welcome & Awards
12:30 – 1:30pm – REPTILE MAN, Isaac Peterson
1:45 – 2:45pm – Tribal parade to the Main Stage followed by a performance
4:00 – 5:00pm – REPTILE MAN RETURNS!
Entertainment will also be provided at the Gazebo on Hatchery’s own Chinook Avenue.
Community Day Festival Map
The Wenatchee River Salmon Festival typically takes place on the grounds of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, with picturesque views of the Cascade Mountains along the banks of the Icicle River.
The map below shows the 2019 layout. Click on the image for a larger view.
Salmon Fest Poster Contest
Every year, 3rd grade students from across Washington State submit their own artwork for a chance to be featured on the o-“fish”-al Wenatchee River Salmon Festival poster. Check out the previous year’s winning designs below! Special thanks to our partners at the Chelan County PUD for organizing this program!