WSG News Blog

SeaFeast Festival Connects Community to Fishing Industry

October 1, 2016

“When we appreciate and understand all of the benefits of our locally produced seafood, we’ll be motivated to ensure that future generations can enjoy them as well.”– Deb Granger, SeaFeast General Manager

The first inaugural SeaFeast event in Bellingham aimed to introduce the community to the thriving, but little-known seafood industry and culture of Bellingham Bay.

To that end, organizers of Bellingham SeaFeast 2016 unveiled a variety of events, including seafood sampling, boat rides on Bellingham Bay, cooking demonstrations, contests and artwork. The event kicked off with a packed house for the FisherPoets on Bellingham Bay, an evening filled with poetry and music at Boundary Bay Brewery and sponsored by Washington Sea Grant. The highlight of the festival the next day was the U.S. Coast Guard rescue of a man in Bellingham Bay, also organized by Washington Sea Grant.

Much of the event was focused around seafood, showing what comes from local fishing boats and the many different dishes that can be created. Vendors showed visitors how to fillet fish, crack crabs and shuck oysters as well as share different ways to cook them. Dozens of booths also educated and entertained visitors with information on regional programs on fish and sustainable seafood.

Hands-on demonstrations helped people gain an appreciation for what can be done with seafood, said Cathy Wade, who operates the commercial fishing boat Chief Kwina with Loren Kapp. “I think many people don’t know how to prepare (seafood), so they shy away from it,” Wade said.

The event also held contests and races, from a salmon grilling contest to commercial fishermen survivor suit races, coordinated by Washington Sea Grant. Tours included Bellingham Cold Storage’s Ice House and fish processing facility.

SeaFeast itself was a contest winner. Last year the city selected it as its newest signature event. Organizers were awarded $75,000 from city hotel and motel tax to make it happen. General Manager Deb Granger and Pete Granger, Washington Sea Grant’s seafood industry specialist, said they had more than 50 vendors participating. SeaFeast set a goal of having 5,000 attend. Results are pending.

“We want people to eat, play and explore the abundance of our Salish Sea bounty,” Granger said.