Get ready for ocean-focused fest Sept. 8-11

The Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society and Alaska Marine Conservation Council are teaming up to offer Homer one big maritime festival next weekend, Sept. 8-11.

By combining the 24th annual Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival with the second annual Halibut Fest, the two organizations avoid hosting overlapping festivals placed closely together on the calendar, said AMCC Community Fisheries Organizer Hannah Heimbuch.

“Some of the feedback we got from the community was that people loved both of them, but they had similar things going on and the same audience,” Heimbuch said. “Hopefully it’s something that can grow and include others. We have a lot of maritime organizations here and it would be great to keep building a fall maritime festival.”

Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies has also joined up with KBWBS and AMCC to kick off the 2016 Kachemak Bay CoastWalk at Land’s End Resort’s conference room at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8. Chowder and bread will be served to attendees as they gather information about CoastWalk and choose their zone to clean up and monitor during September and October.

Volunteers walk their chosen beach zone, survey the area for natural and human-caused change, collect marine debris and trash, and record anything unusual. CACS is partnering with local recycling group KARe to help sort and recycle as much debris as possible, said Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies Executive Director Beth Trowbridge.

“Our theme of Cast a Net — Collaborating and Cleaning to Prevent Marine Debris celebrates the energizing collaboration between CACS, the Alaska Marine Conservation Council and the Homer Wooden Boat Society to celebrate the importance of the ocean to our community by partnering with them to put on the Halibut and Wooden Boat Festival,” Trowbridge said.

CACS also will partner and collaborate with Kenai Peninsula Borough schools, businesses, the KARe group, the Homer Chamber of Commerce, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Solid Waste Department to turn CoastWalk into a year-long effort to tackle preventing the introduction of marine debris into the watersheds and ocean environments using a grant from the NOAA Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Program, Trowbridge said.

“We all will truly be casting a very wide net to be part of the solution to keep our oceans and waterways clean and healthy,” Trowbridge said.

In addition to consolidating the two festivals into the same long weekend, AMCC, CACS and KBWBS will hold some of their events in tandem or at the same location.

“I think we have the same beliefs and working in conjunction for the same thing — all three associations: clean water, sustainable fish, and the boats to go out and get them,” said KBWBS member Zelda Collett-Paule.

The AMCC’s free Community Fish Fry will be at the festival grounds behind Pier One Theater at the Fishing Hole Campground, where the wooden boat society will hold other festivities.

Row boats will sit on the beach for families and individuals to take out on the bay, said KBWBS member Bumppo Bremicker. Festival attendees also are encouraged to bring their wooden boats — in any condition — to the grounds.

“They don’t have to be immaculate of any kind,” Bremicker said. “Sometimes they bring these finished boats or some need fixing up. There’s tons of boat people that can give advice on fixing up boats.”

Kids have the chance to engage in boat building at the festival with small wooden models — all supplies will be provided, free of charge. The boat building activity is often the most popular attraction, Collett-Paule said.

With families already coming through, it made sense to fry up halibut and veggies donated by local fishermen and farms in the central location, Heimbuch said.

“We work with the North Pacific Fisheries Association. They’re Homer based and represent local fishermen, including halibut fishermen. They partner with their fishermen to donate fish and then we work with a restaurant to cook it,” Heimbuch said. “That event is a community effort. We have volunteers helping cook. It’s a very collaborative community meal.”

Those who miss the CoastWalk kickoff can pick up packets and choose a zone at the CACS booth at the festival grounds, or sign up at the CACS headquarters on Lake Street through September. The festival booth will have information on ways to track marine debris and activities to celebrate the ocean, Trowbridge said.

AMCC and KBWBS also are co-hosting a Friday, Sept. 9, movie night with a speaker by streamlining KBWBS’ usual movie night and the educational panel held last year by AMCC into one event held at Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center at 6 p.m. Claude Dykstra of the International Pacific Halibut Commission will speak on halibut ecology, followed by a viewing of the film “Tordenskjold” about one of the North Pacific’s historical wooden halibut schooners.

“I’m really excited about the Friday night speaker and movie night,” Heimbuch said. “He’s knowledgeable about the history of the fishery. Hopefully it draws a mix of people.”

The Saturday, Sept. 10, dinner, dance and auction at Alice’s Champagne Palace will be to the beat of Anchorage Celtic band Rogues and Wenches. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a $10 cover charge so attendees can order drinks and grub before the live and silent auctions begin at 7 p.m. Music begins following the auction. A number of items will be up on the block to benefit KBWBS and AMCC, including re-purposed buoys decorated by Alaska artists, Heimbuch said. Even Bremicker, who will play auctioneer that evening, said he hopes to get his hands on a buoy.

“Our signature thing is our decorated buoy that has been donated by local fishermen and then decorated by a local artist,” Heimbuch said. “They are so unique; every buoy is so different. I like the idea that we are slowly populating Alaska with these unique buoys.”

Anna Frost can be reached at

John Miles feeds the wood stove at the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival last Saturday. Miles volunteers every year to help build the blanks for children to make their own wooden boats.

John Miles feeds the wood stove at the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival last Saturday. Miles volunteers every year to help build the blanks for children to make their own wooden boats.

Decorated buoys on display at Alice's Champagne Palace will be auctioned off during the Homer Halibut Festival.

Decorated buoys on display at Alice’s Champagne Palace will be auctioned off during the Homer Halibut Festival.