Every summer, south central Alaska hosts a very unusual parade … a parade of wild salmon! No, we are not talking about the slippery, yummy fishy-tasting ones – although there are plenty of those to be had as well. These particular wild salmon are strictly for the artistic palette.
“Wild Salmon on Parade” is an annual part of the fun and festivities of summer in the busy port city of Anchorage, Alaska. These special fish can be found displayed on public sidewalks, parks and store fronts all over the downtown area throughout the summer months, but the fun really begins much sooner. While snow is still on the ground early in the year, local artists present humorous, serious, playful or thought-provoking proposals for their “fish”. This contest is open to anyone who wants to participate. A jury picks what they feel are the best twenty-one ideas each “season” from those presented and the artists who make the cut are given a blank, white “fish” form to work their own special magic on.
Each salmon is identical in shape and size when they are first handed out, but what comes back to be displayed is often outlandish, comical, spectacular, ornate, elegant and often just plain wacky!
The imagination of Alaska’s artistic community is allowed to run as wild as the salmon and it shows! Tourists and residents alike enjoy driving or walking around downtown Anchorage in search of these not-terribly-elusive fish. A warning though … a “sighting” can be the cause of spontaneous laughter, plenty of finger pointing and sometimes even serious discussions of the merits of each individual fishy offering. Everyone seems to have a different favorite!
This annual fund-raiser is a real crowd pleaser. A full summer-long event; the “Wild Salmon on Parade” season begins with the Ship Creek King Salmon Derby in June and finishes with the Ship Creek Silver Salmon Derby in August. The last showing of these fancy fish is at the Palmer State Fair in the Mat-Su Valley, with a running of the wild salmon art pieces at the Alaskan Craftsman House from August 27th through September 7th (Labor Day).
At the end of their showing season, sponsors host a “Fish Fry & Buy” dinner auction, where lucky diners (only those who have purchased a dinner ticket for this charity affair) can bid on their favorite fishy piece of art and take home their hard-won prize. The proceeds from the dinner and art sale go to Camp Fire USA, the Alaska Botanical Garden and the Anchorage Urban League.
Come join the fun! “Wild Salmon on Parade” in Anchorage is different and unique each summer and every season seems to be more imaginative and wonderful than the last.
If you aren't going to be in Anchorage this summer, you can still enjoy viewing this year's "Wild Salmon" at www.wildsalmononparade.com.