Festival welcomes return of salmon to Grand Haven

The ninth annual Grand Haven Salmon Festival is scheduled for September 21-23. Festivities include a Big King Fishing Contest, Salmon Cook-Off, and KidZone where children can learn about fish and wildlife.

Chinook and coho salmon return to west Michigan rivers each fall, and the Grand Haven Salmon Festival welcomes this sign of the changing season. The festival is held on the Grand River waterfront, and in some years, salmon can be seen rolling and jumping in the river as they head upstream. Boat and pier anglers, alike, can participate in the Big King Fishing Contest on Saturday morning. Fish must be weighed in by 1:30 PM at Waterfront Stadium. Michigan Sea Grant staff will be on hand to demonstrate fish cleaning techniques, discuss the state of the salmon fishery, and answer questions about invasive species and the health of the Great Lakes. 

Even if you do not plan to fish in the contest, the festival offers plenty of other events. A Fresh Catch Fish Boil takes begins on Friday at 4:30 PM, with live music and a silent auction to follow. On Saturday, the KidZone will include outdoor environmental and educational displays, live wildlife exhibits, a big lake fishing simulator, a trout fishing pond, and a Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! booth. Other Saturday events include a nature-themed Art Fair, Salmon Cook-Off, cooking demonstrations, and an evening Entertainment Tent.

On Sunday, festival-goers can enjoy a guided hike at the Kitchel-Lindquist Dunes Preserve on the scenic north shore of the Grand River or participate in a geocaching event from noon to 5:00 PM. The Tri-Cities Historical Museum is offering an exhibit that includes displays on the history of local commercial fishing.

The Grand Haven Salmon Festival provides a unique opportunity to bring people into a coastal community and highlight the connections between Great Lakes fisheries, dune and river ecosystems, local history, and the vibrant life of coastal towns. In addition to enjoying and learning about the coastal environment, participants will also have a hand in protecting it. All disposable plates, cups, and utensils will be composted this year.

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