The yearly return of the Kokanee salmon is in full swing at the Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, and the park’s visitor centre will be hosting the first annual RedFish Festival on Sunday.
“People have been coming down to see the fish spawn for decades,” said Mel Reasoner the visitor centre director. “There have been school programs that have been going on for years, and you can extend it back further to the First Nations who have been doing it for centuries. So the idea was there are so many people coming down to see the fish that we should build a festival around that event.”
The free festival runs Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will also be an evening presentation, at 7:30 p.m. by Matthew Neufeld (a biologist with the Ministry of Environment), that will answer a lot of questions about the Kokanee cycle and how they fit into the local web of life.
“This is part of a number of new things that have been going on here [at the visitor centre] ever since the West Kootenay EcoSociety and the Friends for West Kootenay Parks started running it two years ago,” said Reasoner.
“We want to use the day to educate and celebrate with music, salmon walks, food and kids activities. We will have trained naturalists on site for walks along the channel as well as local fisheries and parks people to answer questions.”
Anyone who attends the event will hear the musical talents of Brian Rosen and the What Now, Billy and Earl, and many local vendors will be present selling food and crafts. Face painting, and Pin the Tail on the Kokanee will be available for the kids.
This year’s salmon run is also shaping up to be a strong one.
“As of August 13, I think there were 13 fish in the creek and now there are over 4,000. So the spawning channel is absolutely teaming with red fish. It is quite spectacular,” said Reasoner.
“With the naturalist programs [the spawning tours] I think that people will gain a better understanding on how it works, and also how the fish fit into the broader food web.
“It’s going to be fun and they will get to celebrate this annual cycle that people have been coming and witnessing for decades now, and have an enjoyable afternoon in the sun.”
For more information go to the EcoSociety website at ecosociety.ca or call the visitor centre at 250-825-4723.