Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament canceled

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, two major Homer events scheduled for this spring have been canceled.

The 27th annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament, postponed to April 25, has now been canceled. So has the 28th annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, which was scheduled for May 7-10.

The Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament had originally been scheduled for March 21, but as COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, spread, the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center postponed it to April 25. On Monday, the chamber announced the tournament was canceled outright “in response to the guidelines from state and federal authorities,” chamber Executive Director Brad Anderson said in a press release.

The chamber is the event’s host and main sponsor.

In that release, Chamber Board President Tom Soderholm said canceling the popular spring fishing tournament was a difficult decision for the chamber to make.

“However, our priorities now must be focused on the safety of our community members and getting in front of the COVID-19 virus,” Soderholm wrote in the release. “We look forward to getting this tournament back to normal in 2021, so mark your calendars for Saturday, March 20, 2021.”

The chamber’s first Homer Halibut Tournament remains scheduled for June 5-6.

“The Chamber will continue to monitor this coronavirus situation as it relates to the registration process for this tournament,” according to the press release.

Updates about the halibut tournament will be posted on the Homer Halibut Tournament Facebook page and the Homer Chamber of Commerce website at https://www.homeralaska.org.

Another major spring event that usually draws hundreds to the Homer area is the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. The Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge jointly decided to cancel the event, according to a press release, “for the health and safety of our community, employees, volunteers, and visitors.”

“It takes an entire community to support Alaska’s largest, most accessible wildlife viewing opportunity, and we are grateful to have earned the community of Homer’s support for the past 28 years,” the release states. “It is out of care and respect for the community (and our many beloved birders), and in keeping with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, that we take this action.”

The release acknowledges that locals and those across Alaska will likely miss the event, but that the festival planning committee is committed to doing its part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“While we are not gathering together this year, we plan to return better than ever in 2021,” the release states. “We also find hope in our shorebirds — as they migrate north, they will continue to gather along our shores. Please stay tuned for new ways to connect with the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival.”

Editor’s note: Editor Michael Armstrong is a member of the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival Committee. He did not participate in writing the portion of this article that refers to the festival.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com. Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.