Salmonfest to bring music, food and vendors to Ninilchik this weekend

65 bands and performers will participate in the three-day Ninilchik music festival

Salmonfest 2022 is bringing 65 bands and performers to Ninilchik for a three-day music festival this weekend. Beginning Friday, Aug. 5, the festival features a packed schedule with four active stages at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds.

The performers are a mix of national and local artists. Salmonfest Assistant Director David Stearns said organizers sought to showcase both homegrown talent and top national acts.

Stearns mentioned Shakey Graves as a personal favorite, but the roster also includes Umphrey’s McGee, Kyle Hollingsworth, Rising Appalachia, BenJammin and the Jammin Band and dozens more.

Salmonfest 2021 was held with limited capacity in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. More tickets have been sold this year, but Stearns explained that the event is still being held below capacity. Stearns said this was for a variety of reasons, COVID being one of them.

“We want to make it better, not necessarily bigger,” Stearns said.

Salmonfest is held each year to advocate for “all salmon related causes,” according to the Salmonfest website. Stearns explained that one of the biggest donations made by the organization each year is to advocate against approval of the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay. Money from the event is used for a variety of other causes throughout the Kenai Peninsula, and also to improve the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds, where the event is held, Stearns.

Another priority for Salmonfest is reducing waste. Recycling is a massive focus on the campground with zero waste stations run by local community groups. Volunteers from the “Zero Waste Crew” will be stationed at each of these to help ensure waste, recycling and compost are sorted into the proper bins. Salmonfest also requires all vendors to use compostable cutlery and serveware to further minimize waste.

Salmonfest is “a really special unique gathering of a diverse group of people that is rare in the world nowadays,” said Stearns, who emphasized the variety of local food, performers, vendors and drinks on offer.

Online ticket sales for Salmonfest 2022 have ended, but additional tickets will be available at the gate. Reservations at the campground are sold out. The event runs from Aug. 5-7 with the earliest performances starting between 11 a.m. and noon, running as late as midnight.