Time to get fishy at annual fish fest

It might smell fishy, but that's the way they like it.

The 21st Annual Fishermen's Fall Festival will swim up the Boardwalk of Fishermen's Terminal once again with a variety of seafaring events, performances and food competitions.

Between sponsorship and donations, more than $45,000 has been raised thus far for the all-day event, Saturday, Sept. 26.

"This is shaping up to be one of our best festivals ever," said Paula Cassidy, owner of Wild Salmon Seafood Market at Fishermen's Terminal. "Our participation from the commercial seafood industry and various sponsors has been very good this year. It's been an easier year for us than normal."

Though the funds are high, volunteer coordinator Dean Paglialunga said he needs more volunteers to sign up.

"We're at about 110 volunteers now," said Paglialunga, general manager of Chinook's at Fishermen's Terminal. "But we could easily use at least another 50."

Volunteers help facilitate activity booths, from face painting to oyster art. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Paglialunga at dean@anthonys.com. Though he's still working on gathering volunteers, Paglialunga said he's excited about the vigor that comes with the festival.

"The energy it brings down here is just a good energy," he said. "There's a lot to do, it's for a good cause and it raises awareness of the fishing industry and the dangers of it."

From the Survival Suit Race to the Miniature Wooden Boat Building, the festival contains "nonstop action" and has "one of the best barbecue salmon dinners around," Paglialunga added.

Cassidy, a committee member of 14 years, runs the food contests for the day - including the Salmon and Halibut Fillet Demonstration, the Lutefisk Eating Contest and the Oyster Slurp Competition.

But her personal favorite is the Wild Salmon Fillet Competition, which tests fish fillet skills of speed, recovery and quality. "It's just a really wonderful competition to show the skill involved with getting the fish from the market to the customers' plate," Cassidy said.

This year's fish was donated by Select Fish in Alaska, and will either be silver or coho salmon. So far, 30 Northwest fish 'filleters' have entered the contest. The filleted fish from the contests goes straight to the barbecues. A salmon dinner costs $10 for participants, the only expense, apart from the beer garden, in an otherwise free event for attendees. All proceeds benefit the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial.

Aside from the fish, the festival is a "chance for us merchants down here to give back to the community and a chance for the community to appreciate the value of the commercial seafood industry here in Seattle," Cassidy said.

The festival starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. Attendees can participate in food contests or watch others put their fish skills to the test at the Demonstration Stage, which will also host Kontagious Performing Company - a hip-hop dance group - at 4:30 p.m. The Main Stage includes entertainment by Sunshine from Polynesia - a traditional Hawaiian dance troupe - at 11 a.m. and the music of Lost Varnets - a local oyster band at 4 p.m. For a complete listing of events and activities go to portseattle.org/news/events.

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