Bear Creek Salmon Festival offers food, music and fun for all ages – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

There may be a bit of a wow factor in finding out what a submerged net brings in Bear Creek. photo sent
Volunteers from the North Mountain Nature Center show children what kinds of creatures live in Bear Creek.

The pandemic reminded us that all good things must come to an end, at least temporarily.

But the return of the Bear Creek Salmon Festival in Ashland proves the adage that good things come to those who wait.

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the free event returns to North Mountain Park Nature Center on Saturday, October 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with music, food and all the activities that have made the festival a fan favorite. fall with Rogue Valley Families.


“We really miss seeing our community during the pandemic,” said coordinator Jen Aguayo, who works at the North Mountain Park Nature Center for the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department.

“The Bear Creek Salmon Festival is very local. We see our friends and neighbors, we share food, we enjoy good music and the children explore the park and play. It’s a joyous connection for all ages,” she said.

Local experts will be on hand with outdoor activities for all ages. They will include interactive exhibits, children’s activities, live animals, salmon education, Native American demonstrations, spins and storytelling.

“We are very excited about our music programming this year,” said Aguayo.

Musical acts are booked throughout the day, beginning with guitar and the soothing voice of Greta Gardiner. The upcoming set will feature Bekkah and the Dusty Rubies’ three-part harmonies, guitar, banjo and violin. Festival goers will end the day dancing and enjoying the music of Frankie Hernandez and his band.

“Between performances in the pavilion, visitors can head to the salmon cooking area to listen to Tommy Graven’s graceful guitar and flute,” said Aguayo.

Did someone say cook salmon? Well, it’s the Salmon Festival, and Tom Smith will be doing the honors, cooking the salmon the traditional way, on stakes over a carefully tended campfire.

Libby VanWyhe is the manager of the North Mountain Park Nature Center.

“Ever since I’ve been here, Tom has joined us in cooking the salmon,” he said. “He brings all of his intentions to the cuisine and cultural preservation that he represents.”

The Cultural and Ecological Promotion Network will be grinding acorns at the festival.

“I love the participation and representation of Native Americans in this event,” said VanWyhe.

The festival honors the return of the fall Chinook salmon, with the goal of educating people of all ages about the watershed and sharing opportunities for stewardship of the bioregion.

“We do this while having a great time, enjoying nature as a community,” he said.

While there will be opportunities for most to sample the salmon Smith cooks over the campfire, there won’t be enough to serve everyone a salmon dinner.

“That’s why we have Fatso’s Cheketos as this year’s food vendor,” said VanWyhe. Medford’s popular keto food truck has made a name for itself by offering people’s favorite foods in keto, low-carb, low-sugar versions.

Aguayo says the food truck will serve a variety of dishes.

“There will be plenty of gluten-free options,” he said. “They will also have a vegetarian dish, a kid-friendly dish and something cold and refreshing to drink.”

Organizers are promoting the festival as a zero-waste event, asking visitors to bring reusable water bottles or cups. Food truck offerings will be on reusable plates provided by festival partner Lend-Me-a-Plate. Volunteers will help wash and sanitize dishes, and help eliminate the pounds of trash normally associated with an event of its size.

“We have several different shifts so volunteers can help out and still enjoy the event,” Aguayo said.

Those interested in helping can contact volunteer coordinator Sulaiman Shelton at 541-552-2264 or email [email protected]

Aguayo is very pleased to be involved in the event.

“I love to connect people with their habitat,” he said. “The day focuses on salmon, local watersheds and all the ways we are intertwined. And we are as dependent on healthy watersheds as salmon.”

VanWyhe, who became center manager in 2013, began working at North Mountain Park as a volunteer in 2008 and also helped with the festival, now in its 16th year.

“There is something for everyone at the event,” he said. “Also, people love to explore the creek for aquatic macroinvertebrates. What’s more fun than looking for water bugs with kids?

A few years ago, the festival incorporated a bead bracelet activity that is like a scavenger hunt. “Kids love it!” VanWhee said.

As a way to encourage children to explore all aspects of the festival, beads are given away in each zone.

“The children collect the colored beads to make a bracelet,” she said, “and a complete bracelet wins a salmon prize.”

North Mountain Park is at 620 N. Mountin Avenue in Ashland. Admission to the festival is free.

For updates and more information, go online at

Contact writer Jim Flint at [email protected]