Yes, J.P. Patches will be there.

And The Lost Vaurnets will bang out their good time R&B and rock 'n' roll.

Salmon barbecue will scent the air, and the survival-suit races will reminds folks that fishing's a serious way to make a living.

The 15th annual end-of-summer rite, the Fishermen's Fall Festival, is gearing up for Saturday, Sept. 13, at Fishermen's Terminal, 1900 W. Nickerson St., from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The traditional, family-oriented event features a new competition this year: a lutefisk-eating contest, which actually might be harder on spectators than participants.

That spectacle will happen following the traditional oyster shuck and shoot.

Paula Cassidy of Wild Salmon Seafood Market is organizing both competitions. Not surprisingly, she heartily endorses both.

"It's fast-paced shucking and shooting," she said of the shuck-and-shoot faceoff. "It's a blast."

The festival is free. Proceeds from the salmon barbecue - $6 includes the salmon, Chinook's cole slaw, garlic bread, ice cream and a beverage - will go to the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial Committee. The committee provides services to survivors of those lost at sea, sponsors safety-awareness programs and oversees the care of the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial.

For those who prefer hot dogs to salmon, $3.50 will get you the old American standby along with chips, ice cream and a beverage.

Kids activities are a big part of the festival, and of course the themes are nautical, right up to an oyster art event. Among the happenings for the younger set: an inflatable pirate ship, face painting, balloon sculpture, wooden-boat building and remote-control tugboats, workboats and pleasure boats.

Festival-goers will have the chance to tour the Sea Explorer Scout ships and watch a fireboat demonstration by the Alki.

The Puget Soundkeeper Alliance will be setting up a booth, and so will the Nordic Heritage Museum and the Shellfish Growers Association.

The festival's mission is to celebrate the local fishing fleet and increase public knowledge of the fishing industry and its importance to the local economy.

The practical effect is to provide families with an enjoyable waterfront outing and to raise money for the Memorial Committee.

Debates about the future of Fishermen's Terminal wax and wane, but the festival itself, marking the end of summer, has become a Seattle classic.

Here's what's in store for the 2003 edition:

AT THE Entertainment Stage:

11:30 a.m. Paradise Productions, a festival mainstay, puts on their captivating Polynesian show.

1 p.m. J.P. Patches, the clown from the City Dump, a Seattle icon before Seattle was "livable."

2 p.m. Paradise Productions does it again.

3 p.m. Survival Suit Races, which move from the stage to the water. It's fierce competition with a serious message. Four-person teams demonstrate their speed and dexterity in donning the survival suits, then swimming to and from a life raft.

4 to 7 p.m. The Lost Vaurnets play with style and humor and are a festival favorite.

AT THE

Demonstration Stage:

Noon. The Reptile Man cometh. Scott Peterson, zoologist and educa-tor, brings his interactive show to the festival. His 50-minute program teaches kids about the importance of all animals in the balance of nature. Slithery creatures abound. A good warmup for watching the lutefisk-eating competition.

1 p.m. The Wild Salmon Fillet Challenge brings some of the world's best filleters to compete for the championship. Judging is based on speed, recovery and quality of work.

2 p.m. Oyster Shuck & Shoot. Oyster shuckers compete to see who can open a dozen oysters and slurp them down the quickest.

3 p.m. The lutefisk-eating competition.

4 to 5 p.m. It's the Magic Rich magic show for all ages.

For more information, go to www.seattlefishermensmemorial.org.

E-mail regarding this story may be sent to qanews@nwlink.com

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