Photo courtesy of Ballard SeafoodFest.
The much anticipated alder smoked salmon being prepared by SeafoodFest volunteers.

Ballard prepares for its 40th Annual SeafoodFest

By Christy Wolyniak

A salty, warm breeze rolls off the Puget Sound with that deep, ocean-and-seaweed scent that promises a bounty of fresh seafood for Ballard fishermen and an appreciative community.

Since 1974, the Ballard Chamber of Commerce has hosted Seafoodfest, promising Alaskan salmon barbequed to perfection with a secret recipe. Today the event has evolved into an all-out summer festival of music, arts, and of course, fresh Pacific Northwest seafood, with all funds supporting local Ballard businesses and the community.

The Ballard Chamber of Commerce will prepare mouth-watering salmon dinners smoked on an alder plank served with garlic bread and fresh coleslaw that will have festivalgoers lined up in droves down the street in eager expectation.

Over 100 arts and crafts vendors, including over 30 food vendors will congregate in the heart of Ballard on July 12 to 13, vending fresh halibut fish tacos and oyster sliders from Blue Med, Athena’s gyros, and salmon po’ boys from Skillet Street Food, and much more.

”The event has evolved over time with the goal of creating a community event that celebrates Ballard, the fishing industry that calls Ballard home, and our Scandinavian heritage,” said Mike Stewart, Executive Director for the Ballard Chamber of Commerce.

Last year, local brews and Ballard’s own signature craft beers pulled up a stool in BeerFest, whose beer garden is expanding this year due to popular demand next to the MainStage.

Festivalgoers can enjoy live bands at the MainStage that highlights a similar vibe as those soulful beats flowing out of the Tractor Tavern; the FamilyStage features local storytellers, musicians and clowns.

The SkolStage put on in collaboration with the Nordic Heritage Museum and Leif Erikson Lodge focuses on Nordic music as well events such as the lutefisk, or “lye fish” eating contest – a very potent, gelatinous mixture of dried white fish and lye.

After 25 years as project manager, Cindy Payne, knows the ins and outs of Seafoodfest.
“I think a lot of it is that Ballard is changing and watching it change is really interesting. We’re still trying to hold onto some of its history too. It still feels like a small neighborhood event that is growing, no question,” said Payne.

Payne also mentioned that the city permits put an extra emphasis on safety and security, perhaps due to recent incidents such as the Boston Marathon. All festival volunteers are aware of plans set in place should they need to be enforced, said Payne.

New to the festival this year is the Ballard Skate FestiBowl, offering skate instruction and competitions with cash prizes. Skaters of all ages can shred it up the Ballard way in between delicious bites and handcrafted arts and crafts.

According to Stewart, 65 thousand people visited the Ballard SeafoodFest last year, and they are expecting more than 70 thousand attendees in 2014.

“We couldn’t do this without our sponsors. We have some time-honored sponsors for this event that we are very grateful to,” said Payne, who mentioned generous sponsors such as the Ballard Market and Swedish Hospital. Others mentions include Trident Seafoods, Ballard Oil, Camco Electric, the Occidental Lodge No. 72, and Picolinos.

Seafoodfest will also have a raffle, with a grand prize of two tickets to anywhere Iceland Air flies.
For a complete list of sponsors and information, visit

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