By Diane Haugen, Executive Director North Seattle Chamber of Commerce
After hosting Lake City Pioneer Days for 72 years, we took it apart, completely redesigned it and renamed it SalmonFest Seattle. The changes were sweeping and resulted in record attendance and record dinners sold at the annual Salmon Bake!
The story is uncomplicated, really. When Pioneer Days was born as a community celebration, the year was approximately 1941. Seven riding stables were located here. Lake City had yet to open its first post office. In other words, the creators of Pioneer Days were only a generation or two from actual, Lake City pioneers. Families sold homemade jam and quilts along the sidewalk and dressed in pioneer style for the parade.
The date of our festival was moved a few times, eventually landing on the first weekend of August to accommodate the Torchlight Parade’s desire for the last weekend in July.
In 2014, we put a re-design team together and over the course of several months came up with the concept of SalmonFest Seattle. Now the question was, “What does salmon have to do with Lake City?” Well, salmon is a Seattle thing. And Lake City has hosted a salmon bake for 65 years. Simple.
What did we do differently?
We changed fish purveyors from a commercial seafood supplier to a local, family owned business that uses sustainable fishing practices, Loki Fish Co. Their salmon are gillnet-caught, handled respectfully, bled and dressed onboard, immediately chilled to below freezing in refrigerated seawater holds, and then transported to Bellingham where our custom processor packs them to order specifications.
We hired an executive chef to manage the food preparation and delivery during the Salmon Bake, which now spans 3 days instead of 2.
We updated the menu, serving an Asian-style slaw along with the traditional version and offering a sauce on the side -which was selected by our neighbors at the Lake City Farmers Market- during our Cooks of Many Cultures event.
Solicited vendors who added a contemporary twist to the products offered at the event.
Booked fantastic music on the Main Stage and placed it across from the Salmon Bake.
SalmonFest Seattle launched in a big way with big results. People of all ages, including many, young families attended the Festival and the Salmon Bake. We estimated attendance at around 10,000 with 2400 salmon dinners served.
Stay tuned for new additions to our 2017 SalmonFest Seattle! Yes, we’ve moved back to to the 1st weekend of August and we’re here to stay.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.