This Saturday marks the 20th annual Return of the Salmon Festival at Coleman National Fish Hatchery, outside of Anderson. New this year is a street fair in downtown Anderson that will run in conjunction with the festival and serve as home base for the traditional salmon bake.
Most importantly, the chinook salmon are actually returning to Battle Creek and Coleman this year after failing to show up in significant numbers during 2009.
“Right now, we’re optimistic, based on the number of fish we have in our ponds and the number we have in the creek,” said Coleman project leader Scott Hamelberg, who estimated 20,000 salmon will make their way up Battle Creek this season. Last year, only about 9,000 salmon made it to Battle Creek, the lowest number in more than 30 years.
The Return of the Salmon Festival draws about 5,000 visitors to Coleman every year, according to Hambelberg. The free event is designed to be family-oriented and educational. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opens up Coleman so visitors may see first-hand how eggs are extracted from the fish (steel yourself), how eggs are incubated and where the salmon fry are raised before release into the wild. Experts are on hand to explain the entire process and answer questions.
Of course, visitors may view salmon in the holding ponds and the creek itself, and get a nose-to-nose look at these inspiring fish in Coleman’s 3,500-gallon aquarium.
In addition, about 50 entities ranging from natural resources agencies to sporting goods manufacturers to a blood bank will have exhibits and displays at Coleman. Millville Elementary School will offer lunch as a school fundraiser.
“An outdoor learning experience is what we try to foster,” Hambelberg said. “We want to share with the community what we do.”
While there is a fair amount of parking on site, Coleman Fish Hatchery Road is not exactly a major thoroughfare. If you drive out there, expect some delays both coming and going. The better bet is to park in Anderson at either Anderson Marketplace (the Wal-Mart shopping center) or in downtown. Free shuttle buses will be making a continuous loop from Anderson Marketplace to downtown to Coleman.
The success of the first downtown Anderson street fair last year was a pleasant surprise to just about everyone. Combining the street fair with the salmon festival for the first time should greatly boost attendance, Anderson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debe Hopkins said.
Scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on East Center Street, the free event will feature live entertainment, arts and crafts, games for children and plenty of food. The ever-popular salmon bake hosted by the Wintu Tribe and the Anderson Exchange Club will be part of the street fair. For more information on the street fair, contact the chamber at (530) 365-8095.
The Return of the Salmon Festival at Coleman is schedule for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shuttle busses will be running the entire time. For further information, contact Coleman National Fish Hatchery at (530) 365-8622. For driving directions to the hatchery, visit the Coleman website.
• If you’re not crazy about big crowds, keep in mind that Coleman is open daily for self-guided tours. And the next time you’re there, check out the Battle Creek Salmon Trail that was recently completed thanks to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, Friends of Coleman, the Sierra Club and the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. The two-mile-long path runs from the fish hatchery to the nearby Battle Creek Wildlife Area and offers the opportunity to view waterfowl and other wildlife, native plants and the lovely creek.
• Speaking of Fish and Game … the state agency recently added a new wild pig hunting opportunity in Colusa County near East Park Reservoir. The agency and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will permit 24 hunters to help thin the wild pig population during special hunts in December. Only muzzleloading rifles are permitted. Dogs are prohibited. The deadline to apply for a permit is October 27. Visit the DFG special pig hunt page for further details.
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and really wanted to get the word “anadromous” into this story. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at email@example.com.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.