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Seafood, maritime education focus of celebration at annual Bellingham SeaFeast

Sep 1st, 2017 | Category: Community

by Mary Vermillion

Bellingham SeaFeast, a celebration of local seafood and the maritime industry, marks its second year Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23 at locations downtown and along the working waterfront. The biggest change from last year? More opportunities to slurp oysters, crack crab and savor salmon.

“We surveyed over 250 people (last year), and we heard clearly they wanted more opportunities to taste,” Bellingham SeaFeast General Manager Debbie Granger said. She was part of the local fishing community that crafted the winning SeaFeast proposal in response to the City of Bellingham’s 2015 call for signature civic events.

Visitors can meet fishermen, tour boats, and try knot-tying and net-mending, as well as tour Bellingham Cold Storage's ice house and fish processing plant. When you'e ready to eat, visit the Lummi Nation members grilling open-pit salmon and several food vendors on site. COURTESY PHOTO

Visitors can meet fishermen, tour boats, and try knot-tying and net-mending, as well as tour Bellingham Cold Storage’s ice house and fish processing plant. When you’e ready to eat, visit the Lummi Nation members grilling open-pit salmon and several food vendors on site. COURTESY PHOTO

The first, new dining experience is SeaFeed at the Depot Market Square from 5-8:30 p.m. on Sept. 22. SeaFeast sponsor Bornstein Seafoods will grill salmon on site , and servers will pour Dungeness crab onto tabletops – crab-boil style – for diners to crack and eat. Oysters will be shucked and served, grilled and raw. Advance tickets are available online at bellinghamseafeast.com. After dinner, guests can join the pub crawl of local breweries to hear FisherPoets on Bellingham Bay share stories, songs and tales of the sea.

On Saturday, SeaFeast moves to Zuanich Point Park and Squalicum Harbor, Bellingham’s working waterfront. Events begin at 11 a.m. and wrap up at 6 p.m. Free activities include a chance to meet fishermen, tour boats, and try knot-tying and net-mending as well as lessons in seafood preparation. Visitors can watch survival suit races, the herring toss (think egg toss with fish), or a rescue at sea conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard. Booths featuring local artists and non-profits will line the waterfront. A seaside beer garden and live music are also scheduled.

Haven’t had enough seafood yet? Local food trucks will also be on site, and Lummi Nation will be grilling open-pit salmon. Visitors can also watch the Skill of the Grill salmon barbecue grilling championship. New this year, participants can purchase tickets to taste the salmon and cast a vote for their favorite grill team in the People’s Choice Award. Or sign up for the timed oyster shuck-and-slurp contest.

There’s also a chance to get out on the water with harbor boat rides or limited-capacity tours of Bellingham Cold Storage’s ice house and fish-processing plant. Tickets are required; they sold out in an hour last year.

Doug Thomas, president and CEO of Bellingham Cold Storage, ssaid it was a simple decision to sponsor SeaFeast and open the plant for tours. “We have been supporting the seafood industry here in Whatcom County for over 71 years now,” he said. “We are excited about telling the local seafood industry story … and we are proud to be a part of such a salt-of-the-earth industry that represents more commerce and jobs than most are aware.”

Participants can also buy a ticket for Taste the Sea, a seafood experience presented by Haggen Northwest Fresh.

As Granger sees it, SeaFeast completes a triad of festivals that celebrate Whatcom County’s heritage resources: the Northwest Washington Fair psaid tribute to the fertile Noooksack River floodplain and agriculture; the Deming Log Show honors the timber industry; and Bellingham SeaFeast salutes marine waters and the fishing industry. “It’s important to get down (to the waterfront) to understand this precious resource and to steward and preserve it for generations to come,” she said.

Organizers hope 10,000 people will attend Seafeast this year, up from 6,000 last year. “As the downtown waterfront district gets redeveloped, I believe this festival can draw hundreds of thousands of people,” Granger added. “My hope is that this is a legacy event that will bless our community for many, many years.”

For more information about SeaFeast, including tickets and schedules, visit bellinghamseafeast.com. 

 

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