By CHERIE BUSTAMANTE/Special to the Express
The fall season in Winters brims with activity and festivals, celebrating various delectables that underscore the town’s culinary creds. There is a new festival on the block that brings something just a little different. The Winters Salmon Festival, in its second year, shines its light on our natural surroundings and more specifically on lower Putah Creek.
The Winters Salmon Festival, inaugurated last year by several organizations and interested members of the community, celebrates the return of fall-run Chinook salmon to its waters in the years since 2012. This Saturday, Nov. 4. the festivities will once again come to Rotary Park and to the creek, with some of last year’s hits returning as well as new must-see enhancements including a “mussel boat” and “mussel dogs.”
In addition to family-oriented programming, from live music and parades to face painting, story-telling, crafts, and fly casting, this year’s programming debuts will include a heavy emphasis on education.
Guided “salmon tours” are set to take place on the creek’s edge, educating festival-goers about salmon life cycles. A “mussel boat,” provided by the Solano County Water Agency boat and partners at the Lake County Department of Water Resources, is covered with Quagga mussels and will be brought to the festival to increase awareness around aquatic invasive species and how they are spread. “Mussel dogs,” trained to sniff out mussels on an aquatic vessel or shoes, will also be onsite to showcase how they help to keep waterways clear of the Quagga mussel.
An additional educational element to the festival includes a local school-wide youth art contest, inviting students to submit artwork portraying the four stages of a Chinook Salmon’s lifecycle. The winning works will be converted to a ceramic tile mural that will ultimately be installed at Lake Berryessa’s Bureau of Reclamation offices.
In addition to food provided by local purveyors, the fun really gets going with a great lineup of performers to include the Muddy Waders, Sourdough Slim, the Putah Creek Crawdads and Tribal Calling, some of whom will lead a parade to kick off and close the day’s festivities. Artworks from a number of regional artists will be also available for purchase at a silent auction inside the community center.
The festival is free to the public and runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit the Winters Salmon Festival website or Facebook page for additional information.
About the festival
Following many years of absence, in December 2012, fall-run Chinook salmon returned to the lower reaches of Putah Creek where they could be seen spawning from the car bridge and Winters Putah Creek Park. Their return may be attributed to significant restoration initiatives in Lower Putah Creek which include scarification projects and the enhancement of the riparian and spawning areas within the waters of Putah Creek.
Many of these efforts are the work of the Solano County Water Agency, Putah Creek Council, Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, the City of Winters, Winters Putah Creek Committee, landowners and many more.
Visit the Winters Salmon Festival website or Facebook page for additional information.