Festival celebrates return of salmon to local area

The event included several educational features as well as a salmon feed.

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Julia Johnson, who is part of the Dance Troop Generation, a Native American dance troop from Pendleton, waits before she dances during the Third Annual Return to the River Salmon Festival.

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Susie Patrick (left) and Jaedean Looney (right) dance during the luncheon at Walla Walla Community College's Walatsa Cafe on Saturday afternoon.

WALLA WALLA - The Third Annual Return To The River Salmon Festival was held Saturday, and along with it came more opportunities to get knowledge, get wet and get into fish.

Education coordinator Melissa Holecek said this year's festival had more than double the number of symposiums on natural resources and salmon recovery efforts.

Just like last year, Fin, the 25-foot-long 13-foot-high steel and fiberglass hollow salmon was brought in to give kids a chance to crawl inside and view murals of salmon and other scenes.

The U.S. Department of Forestry also brought its 30-foot inflatable nylon rainbow salmon; just like Fin, the inflatable salmon could be walked through.

Finally, an aquatic invertebrate teepee station was run by Water & Environmental staff, who helped kids learn about nymphs, caddis larvae, plenarian and other aquatic animals.

As for the goal of the day, it was to celebrate the return of salmon to the Walla Walla River Valley in recent years.

"It is everybody's contribution. It is the work of many. And the Water & Environmental Center's piece of that is the education. The other organizations are doing the work in the streams," Holecek said.

Saturday's festival also featured a $10 salmon feed for 125 people and dancers from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, which included dancer Ada May.

"Restoring salmon is very important to us because that is one of our traditional foods," May said.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at 526-8325.

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