Photo courtesy of Anthony's Restaurant: Volunteers enjoy grub at the 2018 Fall Festival.
Photo courtesy of Anthony's Restaurant: Volunteers enjoy grub at the 2018 Fall Festival.

There’s plenty to catch at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival on Sept. 21. Paula Cassidy has watched it grow over the past 24 years, ever since she opened her Wild Salmon Seafood Market.

“As a new business owner, I was invited to attend a Fishermen’s Terminal Fall Festival planning meeting, and from there it took off,” Cassidy said.

This year will be the 31st annual Fishermen’s Fall Festival, which celebrates the return of fishers and the success of the commercial fishing industry while raising funds to assist families of mariners lost at sea.

Cassidy said the organizing committee begins working on the fall festival in January.

“They are dialed in, but still, as an all-donation fall festival, our first order of business is to set up our sponsors,” she said. “I have to give a shout out to our seafood industry for their generous support.”

Festival admission is free, as are the children’s activities, which include a bouncy ship, a visit from Reptile Man, shell art, fish prints and wooden boat building.

A new event this year will be a children’s cooking booth, where youth will learn how to cook themselves a fish.

“It’s a pretty neat booth, just introducing kids to cooking skills,” Cassidy said.

Hungry and adventurous festivalgoers can sign up for lutefisk and oyster-eating competitions. Sign-up is free and open to the first 10 people to enter at the demo stage. Scandinavian Specialties in Ballard will bring the lutefish, and Mountain Pacific Bank provides cash prizes for first through third place at $300, $150 and $50.

Taylor Shellfish will supply the oysters for the Oyster Slurp Contest.

“It’s actually the quickest slurp,” Cassidy said, “so we give them 10 oysters on the half shell, and hands-free they have to slurp them up.”

This will be the 24th year for the wild salmon fillet competition, which is judged on speed, quality and recovery.

“Recovery in the seafood industry is the least amount of waste,” Cassidy said, adding the salmon are weighed before and after filleting.

There’s a $50 fee to enter, and the grand prize is two round-trip tickets anywhere Alaska Airlines goes.

“Really, without the sponsors this event wouldn’t happen,” Cassidy said.

While there are many free activities at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival, all proceeds from the food booths — barbecue salmon, cod tacos, halibut — goes to the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation. These are cash-only booths, and ATMs are on site.

A new offering Cassidy said is worth a taste is pollock protein noodles.

“Talks like pasta, walks like pasta, but it’s made from pollock,” she said. “I’ll be doing a demo with it, and I’m happy people will be able to try it for $5.”

Cassidy also encourages people to take advantage of free tours of the Ship Canal that will be offered by Argosy Cruises.

“They get a nice, narrated tour of the Ship Canal,” she said. “I mean, where can you get a free boat ride?”

Captain Keith Colburn, a crabber on “Deadliest Catch,” will also be at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival, Cassidy said.

Find out more about what the festival has to offer at fishermensfallfestival.org.