by AVA News Service, May 22, 2017
The World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue in Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor on Saturday, July 1 is more than just a day of free live music, a plate of salmon and trimmings and great microbrews and local wines.
The Salmon Restoration Association presents the 46th annual events to raise funds to do everything possible to save the Coho salmon population and related species in our coastal streams and waterways. Stream restoration projects, biological surveys, and support for key environmental educational programs, are all projects funded by your dinner ticket money.
It is the biggest and best event of the summer on the coast. Your $30 ticket buys a giant plate of salmon, salad, corn on the cob and garlic bread. The wild caught salmon is prepared with a special, “secret” marinade and barbecued to perfection. You can enjoy a selection of award-winning microbrews from North Coast Brewing, Fair Trade coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee and Barefoot wines. Local Cowlicks ice cream can top off your meal.
Your afternoon will be filled with great live music from Earl Oliver, the Coastal Rangers, Highway One, and Steven Bates and Friends. Dance with your family and friends, and maybe with some you have never met.
After dark there will be fireworks over the Noyo River Bay.
There will be lots to do all weekend, including the world-famous and often wacky Mendocino Village parade at noon on July 4.
Hundreds of volunteers make the barbecue possible each year with dozens provided by each service club, including the Fort Bragg Rotary Club, the Fort Bragg Soroptimist Club and the Fort Bragg Knights of Columbus. Businesses like Harvest Market, State Farm Insurance, Fort Bragg Feed and Pet, North Coast Brewing, Thanksgiving Coffee and many others contribute.
Most of the 3000 plus people who attend the World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue each year make a special trip to do so, most from the North Bay and Sacramento Valley areas. We have repeat visitors every year from Gridley, Colusa and many more small towns. There are some families who have come to every single SRA Barbecue and have the commemorative T-shirt collection to prove it!
The event was started in 1971 by commercial fishermen, hoping to find ways to restore declining salmon populations and has been a fixture in Fort Bragg ever since. At that time, all the salmon for the BBQ was caught and donated by local fishermen and the commercial party-boats. The past few years the salmon is purchased from a local Noyo Harbor business, Caito Fisheries, which obtains the fish from northern providers where salmon is still plentiful.
SRA is working hard with regional environmental and government agencies to try to restore the local stream habitats to a condition optimal for the spawning salmon to return to lay their eggs, and the young to hatch and grow before returning to the ocean to feed and grow to maturity. In addition to actual in-stream habitat restoration, important biological surveys of a variety of species are done.
During the early years of logging on the Mendocino coast, most of the local streams and rivers were scoured smooth and the erosion from the clear-cut hillsides filled the streams with silt and decaying debris. These conditions made reproduction extremely difficult for the Coho “tribes” of the Mendocino coast. As a result, the salmon runs of 20,000 – 30,000 fish per season per stream are now down to under 1,000 fish each, and some years none.
If the spawning streams can be restored to something like the original condition with deep pools, clear gravel beds and shallow rapids, the Coho population has a chance to increase greatly. Restoring habitat will also improve conditions for all the other plants and animals which depend on the stream habitat as well. And the fishermen of the coast will once again be able to work in our local waters, and someday, the diners at ”World’s Largest Salmon Barbeque” can, once again eat local salmon!
SRA also supports the School of Natural Resources program at Mendocino High school which has inspired and prepared many young women and men for careers in the environmental sciences. And we hope to support a similar program at Fort Bragg High School in the future.
Learn more about the past and current projects SRA supports, and lots more information at our website www.salmonrestoration.org.
Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.
Advance adult tickets are $25 and can be purchased before 5 PM on June 30 at Harvest Market in Fort Bragg and through our Website www.salmonrestoration.org.
Free parking and shuttle service are provided from the Mendocino College parking lot to South Noyo Harbor from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.