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So long, Salmonstock: Alaska music festival to get new name, sponsor

  • Author: Mike Dunham
  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Published February 19, 2015

The Renewable Resources Coalition and Foundation will not present the popular Salmonstock music festival this year but the show will go on -- with a new sponsor and a new name.

In a press release issued Thursday, Renewable Resources executive director Anders Gustafson said the group had "made the challenging decision to NOT proceed with organizing Salmonstock or other large and expensive outreach campaigns in 2015." The coalition, formed to stop the development of the Pebble mine near Bristol Bay, created the event and sponsored it for the last four years.

The Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, based in Homer, will now take over the three-day event, renamed Salmonfest.

"Everything's going to be the same except for the name and the sponsoring organization," said the society's president, Roberta Highland. "They had a trademark on the name."

Jim Stearns, who has produced the festival since its inception in 2011, confirmed that it will take place in the same location and time frame, at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, July 31-Aug. 2.

"It's the same crew, same production team, a lot of the same people," he said. "Ray Troll is on board." The Ketchikan artist famous for his pun-laden fish illustrations has loaned his art to the cause and performed as the front man for the Rat Fish Wranglers band.

Salmonstock has attracted between 5,000 and 7,000 people each summer for the past couple of years, Stearns said. Some show up for one day; others camp out near the fairgrounds for a whole weekend of music and beer laced with exhortations to stop the Pebble mine.

Gustafson's press release suggested that his group feels it has largely achieved that goal and must now conserve its own financial resources. But Stearns feels that the musical celebration can continue to address larger issues.

"When I heard the news that they were pulling out, I decided to figure out another way to go about it," he said. "It's one of those things that really unifies a lot of Alaskans about salmon issues, and the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society can address a wider range of things besides Pebble."

In the past the event has featured a number of Alaska musicians and national headliners like Lucinda Williams, Brandi Carlile, Clinton Fearon and former Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann. Stearns said he plans to get more big names in this year's lineup but was not yet at liberty to disclose them.

A website for Alaska's Salmonfest -- there are similarly named events in Canada and Seattle -- is still under construction but is expected to be up and running soon, Stearns said.