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Go fish: Bellingham’s inaugural SeaFeast celebrates bounty of the bay

Kyle Watkins helps to lay a salmon fishing net down in the proper manner on the deck of the boat Miss Roxanne in Squalicum Harbor. Commercial fishing is one of the main themes of the 2016 SeaFeast, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
Kyle Watkins helps to lay a salmon fishing net down in the proper manner on the deck of the boat Miss Roxanne in Squalicum Harbor. Commercial fishing is one of the main themes of the 2016 SeaFeast, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Bellingham’s working waterfront comes alive with music, contests and tours, all with a maritime theme, on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

The inaugural SeaFeast, selected in 2015 by the city of Bellingham as its newest signature event, was awarded $75,000 from city hotel and motel tax to make it happen. The festival is partially supported by a grant from the city to celebrate the area’s seafood and maritime industry.

The free admission festival will have a salmon-grilling contest and commercial fishers survivor-suit races, tours of Bellingham Cold Storage’s icehouse and fish processing facility, and performances by poets, storytellers and musicians.

“We’re excited to offer some of the region’s best blues, folk, soul music and sea-shanty singers,” said Deb Granger, Bellingham SeaFeast 2016’s general manager. “We also have the amazing performers of the Bellingham Circus Guild.”

Mike McKenzie, marketing and media director for SeaFeast, expects in excess of 5,000 attendees at the event, which takes place at several locations in Bellingham. The main activities are at Squalicum Harbor and Zuanich Point Park.

Among the highlights:

▪ FisherPoets-on-Bellingham Bay present workshops from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 30 at Fairhaven Library. Then they spring into action downtown at 4 p.m. Sept. 30 at Boundary Bay Brewery and at 7 p.m. at Honey Moon Mead & Cider.

▪ The salmon-grilling championship is at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at Zuanich Point Park, when professionals and amateurs compete for prizes by grilling king salmon.

▪ A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescue takes place at 1 p.m. Oct. 1 at Zuanich Point Park, where visitors can watch a mock rescue by the Coast Guard in Bellingham Bay, and step aboard one of the guard’s commissioned cutters for a tour.

SeaFeast has signed 13 food vendors, and will be at the park from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 1. There will be other options besides seafood, including pizza, Mexican food and deli sandwiches.

More than 30 different dishes will be offered by chefs of the Hotel Bellwether’s Lighthouse Bar & Grill, some prepared at the tables, at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 at “A Feast of the Sea,” the grand finale of the festival.

The all-you-can-eat buffet features local oysters sizzling on the grill and on the half-shell; mountains of freshly cracked Dungeness crab; fresh fillets of salmon, halibut and black cod; sushi; prawns; and albacore sashimi. Local beer and wine, plus a dessert table, also are offered at the Bellwether Ballroom.

“A Feast of the Sea” includes the premier screening of the “Sea-to-Plate” film by Bellingham’s Pollock Pictures. The film depicts the pride and care that Salish Sea fishers demonstrate in bringing their abundant resources to consumers. Also, winners of Bellingham SeaFeast’s salmon grilling competition will be presented.

Reserved seats are required for the only ticketed event of Bellingham SeaFeast. Tickets, which cost $90 plus a $5 handling fee, may be obtained at bellinghamseafeast.com/seafeast-finale.

Details: 360-223-3995, bellinghamseafeast.com, and on Facebook.

Margaret Bikman: 360-715-2273, @bhamentertainme

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