First Columbia Kokanee Salmon Festival

“Many of the fish weighed up to 45 pounds,” stated Bob Jameison , a local biologist and Executive Director of the Columbia Wetland Stewardship Partners, who explained the significance of the Salmon run within the Valley. Jameison went on to explain that in 2011, many people in the valley have forgotten the role that salmon played prior to 1942, as Chinook Salmon spawned at several sites in the Upper Columbia and were a critical source of sustenance for Ktunaxa Nation and Shuswap (Kinbasket) community members, harvested by tribes and nations all the way up their long migration from the Pacific Ocean to the headwaters of the Columbia River at Fairmont.

So this September in light of the history of the salmon and to educate those about kokanee salmon in the Columbia river, the 1st Annual Salmon Festival will be held in the communities of Fairmont Hot Springs, Windermere, and Invermere.

 “Most people have no idea that over 250,000 kokanee salmon spawn every year in the fall in the Columbia River at Fairmont Hot Springs alone,” stated, Jocelyn MacGregor, a local naturalist and environmental enthusiast who saw a need for people to explore and be educated about kokanee salmon in the Columbia River. With Youth Salmon Awareness Field Trips, guest speaker’s presentations, a Charity Golf Tournament and a Salmon Monument Celebration which will include a Gala Salmon Dinner, live music, and silent auction, cooking demonstrations with Celebrity Chef David Wolfman — the weekend festival is sure be quite a catch! 

The festival activities will take place in and around the Columbia River, with people having the opportunity to view the Kokanee salmon run at its height of spawning season. “The Youth/Adult field trips and Charity Golf Tournament will be situated right along the Columbia River,” states Andi Dzilums, one of the event organizers. The festival’s activities are based in a variety of locations from Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, Lakeshore Campground, Copper Point Resort, and James Chabot Park and the whole valley is invited! 

With the First Nations and the Wetland Partners coming together to create a unique event that will inform people about the history and future of salmon in the upper Columbia, Sunny LeBourdais, who is organizing the event from the First Nations events states, “this is an opportunity to learn about salmon, but also to see the role salmon played in our First Nations culture.” You will get a chance to see First Nations art, participate in the unveiling of the salmon sculpture dedicated to the salmon in this valley, and join a Pow-Wow, try stick games, taste traditional food and hear drumming. The public will also have an opportunity to see the war canoes arrive from across Windermere Lake. 


Article submitted by Andi Dzilums

Find out more information by watching our Naturalist Jocelyn MacGregor’s video at the Columbia River where she discusses the events to come and some fishy facts on Kokannee salmon.

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