by Melissa Norris

Well that was a crazy year, and then some, for all of us. One of the many things we have missed as a community are music festivals like Salmonfest, but the good news is it’s game on this year!

Salmonfest 2021Salmonfest is swimming upstream and it will spawn on August 6, 7, and 8th at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik—just in time to celebrate their tenth anniversary. Like every year at Salmonfest; the musicians are enormously talented, the atmosphere is safe and friendly, and the mission is to spread the love for salmon, Alaska’s most iconic fish species. 

“Everything worth doing is on the other side of hard and while it has been an uphill battle rebuilding from last year we are thrilled to bring live music, community and reverence for salmon and their habitat back to the people of Alaska and beyond.” said Director Jim Stearns.

Families are welcome and children under 12 are free with a ticketed adult. In addition to three days of music and multiple stages, there are merchandise booths and the best of Alaska’s food vendors, educational opportunities, plus a Small Fry area designated for kids. Tickets are available for one, two or all three days of the music festival at

“We have built a new outdoor Amphitheater and improved our 40 acre campground that will enable those who wish to social distance the opportunity to do so. We plan to meet or exceed all local and state health guidelines and encourage everyone to act in a safe and respectful manner.” 

Salmonfest 2021The artists this year span an array of music styles with many repeat faces and some new that the show organizers have been working to bring to Alaska. The 2021 lineup includes local and national talent excited to perform including Greensky Bluegrass, Sarah Jarosz, Con Brio, Pamyua, The Burroughs, The National Parks, Vella (my favorite), LowDown Brass Band, Lindsay Lou, I Sing, You Dance, Carse Blanton, Hope Social Club, Brograss, Cousin Curtiss, and Time Easton. Unique flavors of bluegrass, strong female artists, a 7-piece sly funk band, Inuit culture music and dance, sweaty soul music and a lot more span the artist line up. There is definitely a wide variety of talented performers, and everyone will surely have their favorite.

The High Hawks, a new hybrid group made up of key members of a variety of past SalmonFest groups and individuals, will close the new main stage.Visit the Salmonfest website (link) to check out a video of each individual or group performing.

Beyond the fun of the three-day event is a cause to protect Alaska’s salmon and educate folks on the issues that surround this goal. The focus is mainly on protecting Bristol Bay with strong opposition to Pebble Mine, but for the last half dozen years Salmonfest has contributed more than $150,000 to salmon related initiatives. The Salmon Causeway feature at the festival teaches guests about the many issues facing Alaska and how they can help protect fish and habitat. 

SalmonfestAlong the line of conservation, Salmonfest works with a Zero Waste effort where discarded materials are recycled. The whole event is a worthy cause open to all ages where those who love Alaska’s salmon can come together to let loose and appreciate our iconic resource, learn how to get involved and jam out to some excellent music.

Folks often camp nearby for the three days. If you want to camp onsite at The Arches campground, it is available to ticket holders, but you should jump on that quickly because it sells out. There are a bunch of options to camp throughout the area. Salmonfest provides recommendations on their website for campgrounds with shuttles that run back and forth during the festival.

This fun event is great for groups of friends or families. After a year of being cooped up, folks are encouraged to get vaccinated and join a safe event that celebrates the greatness of Alaska.  It is about time we can let our hair down a little to relax and appreciate what we have, while looking to better the future.

Melissa Norris is the Founder and Publisher of Fish Alaska and Hunt Alaska magazines.