Three men prepare their oysters for slurping during the Oyster Slurp Contest at the Fishermen's Fall Festival.
Fishermen’s Fall Festival says ’Ahoy!’ to North Pacific Fishing Fleet
By Elizabeth Wang
The return of the North Pacific Fishing Fleet to its home terminal, on Saturday, Sept. 22, was celebrated in style with the 24th Annual Fishermen's Fall festival.
Back with salmon-filleting demonstrations, wooden-boat building, survival-suit races and even oyster-slurping competitions, the festival was aimed to educate the community about the importance of the fishing industry to the Pacific Northwest.
While admission was free, all donations and proceeds raised went toward helping the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting safety in the fishing fleets and the emotional and financial burden of the surviving families of fishermen lost at sea. The foundation also dedicated the iconic bronze and stone statue that currently towers over the Fishermen’s Terminal.
Over 300 volunteers helped to put together this year’s festival.
“We just volunteer our time,” Anthony’s Restaurants spokeswoman Inge Kaiser said. “We’ve been involved with this for however long it’s been started. It’s really a celebration of the memorial, where everybody can come down and get together and enjoy some fun activities.”
Dean Paglialunga, Fishermen’s Terminal Tenant’s Association treasurer and event-volunteer coordinator, is in his seventh year working with the festival. After working at Chinook’s at Salmon Bay as a site manager back in the early ‘90s, Paglialunga just fell in love with the fishing industry.
“I just respect the way of life, although I know I could never do it myself,” he said. “They provide food to put on our tables. It’s just a lot of work to go through. Many years ago, when [the Fishermen’s Terminal] opened up, they wanted to bring people down here and have a community event to introduce and celebrate the fishing industry. The more we know about certain things, the more appreciation we have for it.”
Warren Aakervik, owner of Ballard Oil, has been barbequing salmon fillets for festival goers and fishermen since even before the first annual event.
“We do anything to support the maritime fishing industry,” Aakervik said. “And it’s really to help and expose the public to the maritime fishing industry –- what it means to have a fishing industry in your community with billions of dollars that’s brought back to you to spend.”
After working with Ballard Oil for over 20 years, Aakervik has learned the flow of the fishing trade and how fragile it can be. Ballard Oil is one of two oil suppliers that provide fuel to commercial fishing companies on the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
Aakervik knows the value of events such as the Fishermen’s Fall Festival and to use it as a tool to inform and educate the public.
“[The festival] is geared around kids, so we can start [teaching them] young, and normal people -- normal every day community people,” he said. “And the more and more they get exposed to that, the more they will recognize the jewel that they have.”
With over hundreds of people coming out to enjoy the last of the Seattle summer weather, the festival isn’t far from its goal of trying to preserve one of the prides of the Northwest.
“It’s the heart and soul of all the fishing communities in Seattle,” Kaiser said. “That’s why it’s exciting for everybody to come out and see that.”