Like a good salmon run that keeps coming back stronger and stronger, Salmonstock, the three-day celebration of salmon and music, returns for its fourth year at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik. Last year the festival drew 5,500, and this year organizers expect it to top that and sell out, said Salmonstock spokesperson Kate Huber.

“It’s been growing every year,” she said. “It’s been wonderful. More and more Alaskans are coming from further out in the state.”

Salmonstock is timed to fall between the red and silver runs so fishermen can attend. It runs Aug. 1 to 3. The last day to purchase advance tickets is July 31. For more information, see box, this page.

Sponsored by the Renewable Resources Foundation, organizers aren’t shy about advocating for protecting Alaska’s wild salmon. It’s a strong opponent of the Pebble Mine Project, for example.

“We seek to educate people about that issue and other issues affecting salmon,” Huber said.

Along with music, Salmonstock includes food, drink and craft vendors. There also will be documentary films and information booths. Dave Montgomery with band Big Dirt also wrote “King of Fish: The Thousand-year Run of Salmon,” and will do a presentation with Cook Inletkeeper. Along with selling their goods, vendors will be educating people about salmon and have action items like petitions, letter-writing campaigns and comment cards for the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed clean-water rules for the Pebble Project.

As part of efforts to reduce waste, the popular beer garden once again will be selling Kleen Kanteen mugs with a new Salmonstock logo. A mug purchase comes with beer, and refills are at a reduced price when the mug is used.

The elevator pitch for Salmonstock is “a nonstop sensory experience of fish, fun and music,” said Jim Stearns, the guy who helps organize the line-up of 63 local, state and national acts.

Come for the fish. Stay for the music. Stay overnight, too, at nearby camping in Ninilchik. A free shuttle runs late into the night to give revelers a safe ride back to camp. Music runs into the wee hours on Friday and Saturday.

Singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams tops this year’s lineup, the first Grammy Award winner to play Salmonstock. A new band that “came out of the blocks pretty fast,” Stearns said, is Hard Working Americans, an all-star line up with Todd Snider, Dave Schools, Neal Casal, Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi, Jesse Aycock and Duane Trucks — brother of Darren Trucks of the Allman Brothers. At 2 a.m. Saturday morning, Poor Man’s Whiskey does an Allman Brothers tribute show.

Big name bands like String Cheese Incident are out of Salmonstock’s budget, but this year it has the next-best thing: Kyle Hollingsworth, who plays keyboards for them. To find good new bands, Stearns works his festival connections and asks the same question: “What’s the hot new band?”

“If I get two or three people who don’t know each other who give me the same band … Well, The Upstarts is one of those bands,” Stearns said.

From New Orleans, The Upstarts are a funk band who put their own stamp on the New Orleans sound.

Salmonstock had 200 groups apply to play this year and selected 40. Local bands include Barroom Roses, Holy Santos Gang, Yellow Cabin, Shawn Zuke and Williwaw Marimba.

A family-friendly event, Salmonstock includes children’s programs, with crafts and the ever popular bouncy house. Teenagers and young adults under 21 who wanted to keep going late had complained because they couldn’t get into the 21-and over late-night venue at Carol Bock Hall, where alcohol is served. This year, there will be late-night electronic music for them on Saturday.

A team of more than 100 volunteers keeps Salmonstock running. People who volunteer four hours or more get in free that day, Huber said. Many slots have been filled up, but some may still be available at the Salmonstock website.

“It’s fun to be part of the team and behind the scenes,” Huber said. “We’ve had volunteers come back year to year. … We’ve created a community and a Salmonstock family.”

That help keeps the event going, Stearns said.

“The general energy around Salmonstock is growing in a positive way,” he said. “It truly takes more than a village for Salmonstock. It takes a peninsula.”

Michael Armstrong can be reached at


Kenai Peninsula
Fairgrounds, Ninilchik 

TICKETS: Last day to purchase
advance tickets is July 31

All three days: $124 (advance), $145 at gate;
Any two days: $105 (advance), $115 at gate 

Aug. 1 or Aug. 3: $55 (advance), $60 at gate

Aug. 2: $65 (advance), $70 at gate

Kids age 12 and under FREE when accompanied by an adult

WHAT:  Family friendly, with music, art, kids activities, information booths, craft booths, food (including salmon), contests and craft brews



GATE hours:

Friday: noon -11 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 

Friday, Aug. 1

Ocean Stage:

12:45 p.m.: Wood River Ruckus

1:45  p.m.: RnR

2:40  p.m.: Yellow Cabin

3:40  p.m.: Spiff & Friends

4:40 p.m.: Nellie Clay & The Lucky Dogs

5:40 p.m.: 907

7:10 p.m.: Coffis Brothers & The Mountain Men

9 p.m.: Great American Taxi

11 p.m.: Kyle Hollingsworth Band

River Stage: 

2:10 p.m.: Solvent Green

3:10 p.m.: Chad Reynvaan & Chromies

4:10 p.m.: Tony Furtado

5:15 p.m.– Dabarko

6:30 p.m.: Todd Grebe & Cold Country

8 p.m: Holy Santos

10 p.m.: Big Fat Buddha 

Inlet Stage: 

2:20 p.m.: TBA

3:15 p.m.: Roots Rock

4:15 p.m.: Medicinewolf

5:10 p.m.: Dylan Lee Johnston

6:35 p.m.: Leeroy Stagger

7:55 p.m.: Dana Lyons

8:45-9 p.m.: West of 61

Headwaters Late Night: 

1 a.m.: The Dirty Hands

2 a.m.: Poor Man’s Whiskey

Saturday, Aug. 2

Ocean Stage:

11 a.m.: The Jammers

11:45 a.m.: Big Dirt

12:45 p.m.: Jim Page

1:50 p.m.: Tony Furtado

3:00 p.m.: Hot Buttered Rum

4:10 p.m.: The Whipsaws

5:40 p.m.: The Upstarts

7:15 p.m.: Tim Easton

9 p.m.: Lucinda Williams

11 p.m.-close: Ozomatli

River Stage: 

11:25 a.m.: The Shoot Dangs

12 p.m.: Michelle McAfee Band

1:20 p.m.: Blackwater Railroad Company

2:25 p.m: The Modern Savage

3:40 p.m.: Deadhorse Hwy

5:10 p.m.: Poor Man’s Whiskey

6:40 p.m.: The Sociables

8:10 p.m.: Super Saturated Sugar Strings

10:15 p.m.: The Barroom Roses

Inlet Stage: 

12:25 p.m.: Jon Dykstra

1:25 p.m.: Flipside

2:30 p.m.: Deb Wessler & Cabin Creak

3:45 p.m.: Shawn Zuke

5:15 p.m.: Ratfish Wranglers

6:05 p.m.: Sophia Street

6:55 p.m.: Ivan Night

8:15 p.m.: Michael Howard

Late Night: 

1 a.m.: Great American Taxi All Star Jam

Aerial Action of Art 

Attend at 3 p.m. on Saturday the annual Aerial Action
of Art facilitated by artist
Mavis Muller

Sunday, Aug. 3

Ocean Stage:

11 a.m.: Steve Norwood Band

11:45 a.m.: Michele McGuire

12:30 p.m.: Food For The Soul

1:30 p.m.: Ratfish Wranglers

2:35 p.m.: Easton Stagger Phillips

3:45 p.m.: Elephant Revival

5:30 p.m.: Keller Williams

7:30 p.m.-close: Hard Working Americans

River Stage: 

Noon.: Emma Hill and
   Her Gentlemen Callers

1 p.m.: Williwaw Marimba

2 p.m.: Anna Lynch Band

3 p.m.: The Upstarts

4 p.m.: Coffis Brothers &
    The Mountain Men

6:40 p.m.: Hot Buttered Rum

Inlet Stage: 

12:10 p.m.: Marty Raney

1:05 p.m.: Jim Page

2:10 p.m.: Jason Flournoy

3:10 p.m.: Jim Lewin

4 p.m.: Hannah Yoter

4:50 p.m.: Megan Palmer

5:45 p.m.: Dusty Santamaria