Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH) is celebrating the second annual Salmon on Sunset event complete with the popular rubber duck derbies.
This free family-friendly event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Issaquah hatchery, 125 W. Sunset Way.
Last year, FISH recorded an attendance of over 2,000 Issaquah residents.
The event includes games, live music, food trucks, a beer garden, raffles, hatchery tours, a native plant garden walk, fly casting demonstrations, arts and crafts, a gift shop featuring native and local artist pieces for sale, and the rubber duck derbies.
But the main event is the arrival of the chinook and coho salmon back to Issaquah Creek. This year, an estimated 20,000 salmon are coming through the Ballard Locks — and the average is 6,000, said Mark Clemens, executive director of FISH.
This year, the event includes a community art project where kids and families can paint the sheds where they spawn the salmon, Clemens said.
Clemens said he is most looking forward to the rubber duck derbies, which take place in the ponds where salmon and trout are growing. Residents and contestants can watch as the bobbing ducks travel across the salmon raceway, through the water shooting at the end of the pond and past the finish line.
The rubber duck derbies will start at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Since 1970, the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce has hosted an event called Salmon Days, which brings an estimated 150,000 visitors to celebrate the venture of salmon back up to Issaquah Creek.
Salmon on Sunset, created in 2022, surrounds the same idea of celebrating the homecoming of salmon. However, this event will have more of a community focus rather than a regional focus.
The goal is to educate, advocate and bring awareness surrounding salmon and the Issaquah hatchery, which has been in the community since 1936.
“Salmon are a key species in understanding your local environment,” Clemens said. “We can promote as well as make people aware that there are people out there who care about the salmon and also that we’re advocating for those salmon.”
Clemens and his family have fond memories of the hatchery since he moved to Issaquah 15 years ago. He recalled taking his daughter to the Issaquah Hatchery each year to see the salmon’s arrival.
“It was something local and special,” Clemens said.