By Stefanie Donahue
Prepare to spend the weekend enjoying a bounty of seafood and stories during Bellingham’s inaugural SeaFeast.
In celebration of Western Washington’s maritime heritage, people all the way from Bellingham to Blaine are banding together to host the first-ever SeaFeast, lasting from Friday, September 30 to Saturday, October 1. Admission is free and all ages are welcome to join in on the fun and fresh seafood.
“We want people to eat, play and explore the abundance of our Salish Sea bounty,” said Deb Granger, Bellingham SeaFeast general manager in a news release. “When we appreciate and understand all of the benefits of our locally produced seafood, we’ll be motivated to ensure that future generations can enjoy them as well.”
Opening ceremonies will take place in Marine Heritage Park, located on West Holly Street, at noon on Friday. From there, eventgoers can munch on grub from Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro while enjoying the performances of local fisherman as they sing, read and entertain crowds through the evening.
Day two begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Zuanich Point Park at Squalicum Harbor. All are invited to start the day watching grillers from all experience levels compete for prizes in an international salmon barbeque grilling contest judged by celebrity chefs. Twelve slots are available to the public and are divided based on skill; salmon is provided and just a grill is required.
A series of maritime tours, art displays and cooking demonstrations, including a live instruction on how to fillet fish and shuck oysters, is also on the docket. Familiar faces from Drayton Harbor Oyster Company plan to vend and donate oysters during the two-day event.
“We’ll be shucking. Somebody will be slurping,” said co-owner Steve Seymour.
To conclude a weekend full of fishing, food and fun, the public is invited to attend the Grand SeaFeast Finale. At $90 a plate, eager eaters can dig in to 80 different types of fish dishes. Tickets can be purchased online at bellinghamseafeast.com/seafeast-finale.
“Food is the star of the show,” said marketing director Mike McKenzie.
The local fishing industry not only has a historic, but an economic significance to the area, McKenzie emphasized.
“It’s part of the fabric of life here,” he said.
Squalicum and Blaine marinas fostered nearly 1,800 jobs in the area and generated a total of $16 million in tax revenue through commercial fishing fleet activity, according to a 2013 study released by the Port of Bellingham.
The inaugural event received initial sponsorship through a $75,000 award from Bellingham’s lodging tax fund in May.
The City of Bellingham Tourism Commission provided seed money for the event and several other organizations have come together to provide assistance throughout the planning process.
To learn more, visit bellinghamseafeast.com.