30th Annual Salmon Festival

By Lura Jackson


What began as a simple way to celebrate one of the major fishing industries in the Passamaquoddy region has evolved into a major foodie event featuring fine dining, local music, arts and crafts and more. The 30th annual Salmon Festival in Eastport promises to wow its attendees with its artisanal theme and a wide range of new and returning offerings during the two days of events on September 2nd and 3rd.

New this year is the dedicated “Foodie Tent”, which will run on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tent will feature farmers from the Maine Cheese Guild with a range of fine cheeses, Maine Grains of Skowhegan offering grains locally grown and milled, and Maine Coast Sea Vegetables and their assortment of seaweed-based products. Raye’s Mustard will be on-site with their hot pretzel machine and array of fine-crafted mustards. Crab rolls prepared by Christ Episcopal Church will be available, along with assorted seafood chowders by local restaurants and chefs, smoked salmon plates, oysters on the half shell, and steamed clams. For beverages, attendees can opt to try craft beers from three local breweries, as well as wines served in special 30-year commemorative glasses.

Turning the Salmon Festival into a “foodie” event was a deliberate choice by organizers that have recognized the popularity of such events all over the world as well as in Maine specifically. “Locally grown and made products are ‘in’ all over the globe,” said Meg Keay, one of the coordinators of the event. “People who live here are proud of what they grow, create and produce,” and guests and visitors are interested in sharing in the process and the bounty, Keay explained. “They’re here to enjoy the maritime heritage, arts, and culture of this place.”

On Sunday, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the namesake of the event in its full glory with a grilled salmon fillet from Cooke Aquaculture. Cooke Aquaculture has been involved with the Salmon Festival since it began in the 1980s with Jim Doyle and the Eastport Port Authority, and it continues the tradition of growing salmon in the bay to this day. Raye’s Mustard Mill will be preparing a special dill-mustard topping for the salmon. The dinner will also include rosemary potatoes, locally sourced organic salad greens/ingredients, homemade herb salad dressing, homemade yeast dinner rolls, peas, and Maine blueberries with cream for dessert. Those who purchase tickets for the meal can take a tour of the bay before or after their dinner at no additional cost.

“It takes many volunteers from all over town to put on this dinner, and this year the chamber has teamed up with members of the airport association,” said Keay. This is the first year that the airport is helping to promote the festival by inviting guests to fly in. 

Music during the event will be provided by Keltic Schmeltic, Pink Capos, Lauren Koss & Bill Johnson, Melissa Cushing, Artful Touch Music, The Brices, Alan Cook, Mark Bechtold & Friends, Lauren Koss, and Fiddle Chick, Picky, Plucky and Friends.

There are many other events going on during the Salmon Festival besides those that involve eating and music – be sure to look around for participants in the annual and ever-popular “Paint Eastport Day” on Saturday, where artists use the island port as inspiration and proceeds benefit the Eastport Art Center. This is the third year of the Fiber Arts Show and Sale, which will include demonstrations, workshops, and a fashion show. Visitors can also enjoy Flea for All along the waterfront on Saturday, the Eastport Tree Tour, the Historic Homes Walking Tour, the Lobster Pound Tour, the Road Race and Fishing Derby for kids (if the Breakwater Pier has been re-opened).

For a full schedule of the weekend’s many activities, visit www.eastportchamber.net.