Amidst the ongoing political wrestling match over construction of a massive mine at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, there was music in early August, lots of it, as more than 5,000 people flocked to Salmonstock, on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.
The third annual Salmonstock, billed as three days of fish, fun and music, included the music of more than 50 bands on four stages, booths celebrating salmon in arts, crafts and clothing. The goal, organizers said, was to educate more people about the importance of protecting habitat for salmon streams in Alaska.
Salmonstock is organized by the Renewable Resources Foundation, which is very upfront on its website (www.salmonstock.com) about its cause: stopping development of the Pebble mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, home of the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. Along with the music, Salmonstock celebrates the fish and the people who depend upon them.
It is also, says the foundation, “about the power we have in protecting our resources and our livehihoods. More than just three days of celebrating what we have, it is an event that offers every attendee the tools needed to help preserve it.” Salmonstock participants are invited to show their passion about the fish and to do what they can to “ensure another millennia of great fishing.”
Since Salmonstock began three years ago, the event has taken hold, and this year presale of tickets was up 1,000 percent, said Anders Gustafson, executive director of the Renewable Resources Coalition and Foundation. Most of the more than four-dozen music groups playing this year took a big cut in pay, which allowed for more music, he said.
“The idea is a fund raiser to sustain an ongoing campaign” against mining ventures that would have adverse affects on the fisheries, he said. While income from Salmonstock hasn’t reached this goal yet, “we have to remember there are a lot of intangibles too,” said Gustafson. Those intangibles include attracting more and more people each year, and educating them about the importance of salmon habitat. The event itself is a year-round effort that involves more than 200 volunteers for three days of festivities.