CAMPBELL RIVER SALMON FESTIVAL 50 YEARS
Somewhere around the late fifties and early sixties, for one reason or another, Campbell River’s major celebrations, May Day, Canada Day and Labour Day, disappeared. Gone were the parades, fireworks, logging sports, ball games, kids sports and a multitude of other events.
Over the next few years some smaller events, organized by individual groups, occurred during the spring and summer, but there was still no major celebration.
In 1967 the Campbell River Canoe Club, reminiscing about the good old days, decided that Campbell River needed a festival. Being the Canoe Club and that canoeing events would be major part of the activities, the name Water Festival was appropriate. The July 1st date was selected since it was traditionally sunny.
First annual Water Festival held at McIvor lake
Festival moves to downtown Campbell River and name Campbell River Salmon Festival was adopted
The Festival obtained a L.I.P. grant and with community donations and volunteers constructed the Totem Pavilion on the Foreshore park
Festival obtains a 2nd L.I.P. grant and commissions local native groups to produce authentic native artifacts which were given to the local museum.
The Cod Jiggers Stomp was the first cabaret held in the new Arena and the tickets were $3.00 each.
Festival budget topped $22,000.00
Chamber of Commerce introduced the World Champion Oyster Eating Contest.
A major sanctioned bicycle race through downtown was added to the program, but after six years it was discontinued as smaller communities could not attract professional riders.
The Festival considered moving to Nunns Creek Park because of the larger grounds, but strong objections by the Downtown Merchants and public convinced the Festival to remain on the Foreshore park. Campbell River is the Logging Centre for Northern Vancouver Island and Coastal Inlets and until the late 50’s had an annual Logging Sports on Labour Day. As logging is the community’s heritage, Salmon Festival introduced a Loggers Sports demonstration as part of the celebration.
Festival constructs 20 foot spring salmon parade float and tours B.C. and Washington State
On July 5 1976 the Salmon Festival was registered as a Society with the Provincial Government. It was registered as the Campbell River Salmon Festival Society.
Oyster Eating Contest contestants vied for a place in the Guinness Book of Records. 74 year old 115 lb. Hilda Dennis consumed 1724 grams of raw oysters in one hour to win the contest and a place in the Guinness Book of Records
Hilda Dennis retains her world champion oyster eating title by downing 1798 grams of the slippery morsels. Cod Jiggers Stomp is so popular that tickets are limited to 6 per person to try and stop the severe scalping. Mining Sports demonstration added to Festival’s events
Rainy days start to plague the July 1st weekend, Maybe the Water Festival was a more appropriate name.
Festival donates to C.R. Figure Skating for sound equipment at Strathcona Gardens Arena. Festival donates to Lions Club to furnish a room at Yucalta Lodge Seniors Complex.
Salmon Festival introduces the Miss Salmon Festival Pageant which is won by Yvonne Pellitier.
Rotary exchange student off to New Zealand for a year and festival donates several dozen T-Shirts to give to her new friends down under.
Although popular, the Oyster Eating Contest is dropped due to bad press. Rule was, if you upchucked, you were eliminated and that was the fate of many contestants. This was felt to be disgusting to some and the bad publicity prompted the sponsor to drop the event.
Vancouver Police Motorcycle Drill Team show their stuff for festival crowd.
Festival budget tops $100,000.00.
Festival receives sanction by the Miss Canada Pageant for its Miss Campbell River Pageant. Winner Holly Patten goes to Toronto to compete for the 1993 Miss Canada title.
Rain continues to plague Festival
Loggers Sports moves to second weekend in August to receive certification by CANLOG (Canadian Logging Sports Association) and the 1st Annual sanctioned Logging Sports was held at Nunns Creek park.
The Lunch Bunch Boogie Down the Campbell River (the Raft Race) was also moved to this weekend.
Mascot Coho the bear was introduced
The Festival and Chamber of Commerce host a Shop to Shore Sailabration as part of “Island Odyssey” (a 52 vessel circumnavigation of Vancouver Island).
The Mining Sports was expanded from 2 to 9 events and became a competition rather than a demonstration.
Rainy days now outnumber the sunny days on July 1st and the cost of running the Festival exceeds $300,000.00
Canadian singer K.D. Lang performs at the June 12th cabaret at Strathcona Gardens Arena.
Festival works with city to provide celebrations for the opening of the new fishing pier on July 4th.
Royal Lipizzan Stallions dazzles sell out crowd at Strathcona Gardens.
Foreshore park and downtown Campbell River are jammed with people to watch the Canadian Snowbirds Air Show.
Another wet July 1st weekend. 66 mm. of rain (15 mm. more than the combined average for June and July) fell during the 4 day celebration.
Municipality notifies the Festival that they would not be allowed on the Foreshore Park next year as the rainy weather and large crowds were causing sever damage to the grounds
Festival begins 3 year plan to revamp celebrations and the July celebration is moved to Elm Park, the Raft Race is moved to late July and the Loggers Sports in August is expanded to 2 days.
Festival receives Charity status from the Federal Tax Department allowing tax receipts to be given for donations.
Canadian Snowbirds return for second air show marking their 20th anniversary.
Oakridge Boys play for concert in Nunns Creek Park during the Logers Sports event in August.
As part of the economic savings for the Municipality in tough financial times, Festival presents a 5 year budget plan to Council, outlining a $15,000 Grant-In-Aid reduction over a three year period.
1992 – 25th ANNIVERSARY
Restructuring program is now complete.
July 1st is a 1 day celebration. The Raft Race is expanded to accommodate more events and the major Celebration “Salmonfest” is the second weekend in August at Nunns Creek park.
Waylin Jennings headlines the concert at Salmonfest.
Festival signs a License of Occupation with the Municipality for Nunns Creek Park and enters into a partnership with C.R. Minor Baseball, C.R. Mens Baseball, C.R. Dog Fanciers & C.R. Skateboard Society to improve the Park.
R.C.M.P., C.R. Trail Riders and Salmon Festival combine efforts to present the R.C.M.P. Musical Rides at the Trail Riders grounds. Event is taped and televised by Much Music.
With the reduction of our Grant-In-Aid Festival introduces a $2.00 adult entry fee for the Salmonfest to cover Children’s Events.
With the help of Ironwood Mall, Social Services program workers and Festival volunteers a trail, complete with bridge, from Ironwood Mall to Nunns Creek Park is opened.
A Festival office is established at Nunns Creek Park to allow onsite administration of festivities and the Park development program.
Evening concert at Salmonfest featured the Legends of Rock & Roll: Bobby Curtola, Buddy Knox, Coasters & Platters.
Final year for Raft Race as insurance cost for the event were becoming prohibitive.
The Nunns Creek Park major baseball field rebuild, a joint project by the City, Minor and Senior Baseball, Community Businesses, Festival and many many volunteers was completed and officially opened.
Work begins on Skateboard Park. Combined project between Municipality, Skateboarders and Festival.
Skateboard Park officially opened
Lights for the Major Ball Field completed in time for the Minor Baseballs Northwest Regional Tournament with teams from British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The winner, Oregon, went on to the Senior Babe Ruth World Series.
Parade is held for the first time on a Saturday and was a joint project between the Shrine Club, Rotary Club and Festival.
Salmon Festival joins other community groups to put on the 3rd annual Family New Years Eve Celebrations at Strathcona Gardens, TideMark Theater and Community Hall. The Festivals portion of the celebration was held in the newly expanded Strathcona Gardens Arena/Pool complex and over 300 people braved the inclement weather conditions to make it was a resounding success.
Laurie Thaine Headlines the concert at SalmonFest.
1997 – 30th ANNIVERSARY
City of Campbell River celebrates 50th Anniversary. The Municipality and many community groups, including Salmon Festival worked together to put on Jubilee Celebrations throughout the year.
Campbell River Childrens Festival, Municipality and Salmon Festival worked together to provide an exciting July 1st Canada Day which wound up with a spectacular fireworks display.
Festival assists the Willow Point Foursquare Church with their first annual Christian Youth Conference in Nunns Creek Park.
Salmonfest enjoys a heat wave (no rain), which was a good fit for the evening concerts featuring the sounds of the Caribbean band Tropical Heat.
700 people turn out for the Family New Years Eve Celebration at Strathcona Gardens and Community Hall to wind up the Citys Jubilee year.
Many complements from the public as Festival maintains the same quality fireworks display as the Jubilee Year
Salmonfest in August is again blessed with 3 days of good weather.
Salmonfest introduces Stage of Stars 3 full days of stage entertainment, replacing the evening only concert and expands the Loggers Sports and Childrens activities. Suzanne Gitzi and Gary Fjellgaard headline the Stage of Stars.
New Years Eve Family Celebration was a success with 800 in attendance.
Farmers Daughter is the headliner for the Stage Of Stars.
Loggers Sports, Childrens Events and Seniors Events programs saw further improvements and a Trade Show for local businesses was added to our schedule of events.
Millennium Family New Years Eve Celebration presented by the Campbell River and Cape Mudge Native Bands, Teen Centre and Salmon Festival was a huge success. Attendance was over 900.
2000 – MILLENNIUM CELEBRATION
July 1st Celebrations by the Childrens Festival and Salmon Festival wind up to another spectacular fireworks display.
Paul Brandt, Canadian Country Artist, headlines the Stage Of Stars at Salmonfest in August.
Loggers Sports underwent a major expansion by offering 3 Canadian Championship events and $15,000.00 in prize money. Despite the poor economic conditions in Campbell River, the logging community supported the expansion and provided 100% sponsorship of the events prize money. The Logging Sports was also filmed and shown on Outdoor Life Network (OLN), a national cable television network, and was viewed throughout Canada and United States.
The Municipality, Wonders Of The Wild and Salmon Festival present a Millennium Event at Salmonfest called Homecoming 2000 Return of the Salmon.
In 1896 Sir Richard S. Musgrave, on a vacation from England, embarked on a fishing excursion with a First Nations guide and caught a seventy-pound salmon. His prize salmon, along with many a great tales, was preserved and taken back to his home in England. Although the fish was destroyed in a fire several years later, its legacy lives on as the Campbell River Tyee Club was founded as a result of that catch.
The B.C. Wildlife Studios in Campbell River made a reproduction of this great fish, which was unveiled at the Homecoming 2000 event. Included in this event was the recreation of the 1896 First Nations village and Sir Richard Musgraves camp, plus carving, dancing and art displays by the First Nations.
This year we expanded our Loggers Sports to include 38 events, 4 of which were Canadian Championships and raised our prize package to $20,000. This made Campbell River Loggers Sports the largest on the Island and one of the top five in British Columbia. The film produced for OLN was picked up by TSN and shown North American Wide.
Our entertainment headliners were Patricia Conroy and Rick Tippie and they put on a tremendous show on Saturday night and through out the three days of Festival local musicians entertained the crowds.
Loggers sports continues to be the popular event of the Festival and in 2002 became the 2nd largest in British Columbia. This years program was basically the same as last year with 4 Canadian championships, 34 other events and just over $20,000. in prize money. The two, half hour films produced of our Loggers Sports in 2000 continue to be shown on OLN and TSN.
For the outdoor stage we featured only local talent and no additional cover charge was required. On Saturday and Sunday afternoon local teen bands were featured on the stage. Although some of the adults were not overly enthusiastic with their style of music, the teens did have fun.
Loggers Sports continues to be the main focus with 4 Canadian Championships and 35 other events. Contestants in the Open events came from European Countries, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada making this a truly International event. This year we increased the prize package to $22,000.00 to provide better prizes for the youth and teen events.
Once again we featured free local and island talent on the outdoor stage and all children’s rides and games were also free. This years Crafts, Trade and Community Corner areas were the best ever with over 40 vendors. 2003 also saw the return of the antique vehicle display which drew a large crowd.
The Celebration known as SalmonFest/Logger Sports on the 2nd weekend in August took on the name “North Island Logger Sports”. This name change was brought about because Logging Sports is the main event, it is the only CANLOG Sanctioned event on the North Island and sponsors come from the North Island area. The logger Sports continued to be the 2nd largest in British Columbia and attracted competitors from all over the world. Local and international competitors competed for part of the now $25,000.00 prize package
Logger Sports took on a new aspect by becoming part of the world circuit with the presentation of our 1st World Championship and Island Television Stations CH and the New VI filmed and showed highlights over the Festival Days.
North Island Logger Sports with the assistance of many businesses, community groups and volunteers by presenting 2 World , 7 Canadian Championships and 31 other events with a prize package of $31,000 became the largest logging sports event in Canada This event was filmed by the Island Television Stations The New VI, CH and CRTV plus CTV from Vancouver. It was also noted by CANLOG as the best family orientated Logging Sports by providing, Youth (9-11), Teen (12-15), Novice, Ladies, Intermediate and Open (pro) competition categories.
Campbell River Salmon Festival with the assistance of North Island Communities and Businesses presented it’s Annual North Island Logger Sports and hosted the most prestigious logging sports event in Canada. The Canadian East West Logging Sports Challenge where loggers from Ontario, Quebec & Maritimes pitted their skill against those from Alberta and British Columbia. The score was West 82 East 56. These events were filmed and aired by local, Island & Provincial Television Networks along with TSN & OLN.
The major change for 2006 was the Parade moving from August to July 1st to be part of the Canada Day Celebration as it was years ago.
This year the Salmon Festival cosponsored the Canada Day Celebrations by assisting with the Huck Finn and Small Fry Derby, Yuculta Lodge & Hospital Canada Day Celebrations, Parade and Skateboard Competition, assisted 28 community groups with assets and manpower for their events and presented Canada’s largest Logging Sports for the 3rd consecutive year.
This years North Island Logger Sports offered 43 events and $37,900.00 in cash prizes to local and international competitors plus hosted the STIHL Western Canadian Semi-Finals. Winners of the STIHL events advance to London Ont. for the Canadian Finals and the winner there will proceed to Germany for the World Finals
For the second year in a row the event was filmed by local, provincial and national television. TSN will aired the show on it’s STIHL Lumberjack Series.
Another successful year as Salmon Festival presented the North Island Logger Sports and our new event the Summer Salmon Sizzler on August 8, 9 & 10 at Nunns Creek Park. Along with these 2 events, Salmon Festival hosted an exciting Canadian East West Logging Sports Challenge between Ontario, Quebec and Maritime loggers and those from Alberta and B.C. The West claimed the victory by winning the final event of the day. We also cosponsored the Canada Day Celebration and assisted 30 other community groups through the free use of our assets or volunteer labour.
For the fourth year in a row our “North Island Logger Sports” maintained its status as the largest in Canada and one of the best family orientated shows. Local and international loggers pit their skills against one another in 40 events for part of the $40,000.00 prize package.
In returning to our roots, Salmon Festival presented a new event, the “Summer Salmon Sizzle” which was a tremendous success. It will definitely be part of next years Festival. Here, restaurants presented their favorite oyster recipes at the Friday night reception and amateurs and pros showed their skills at the Saturday & Sunday salmon baking and barbequing competitions. The local Rotary Club also served up tantalizing dishes of barbequed salmon throughout the weekend.
The 2nd annual “SUMMER SALMON SIZZLER”, which took us back to our roots, was again a hit with the competitors, spectators and those who had a delicious barbequed salmon meal. Along with this were booths depicting the sea food industry and entertainment.
After 3 years of hosting special Logging Sports Competitions (Canadian East West Competition and STIHL Western Canadian Semi Finals) we returned to our regular “North Island Logging Sports” venue. This venue was developed by the Salmon Festival Directors and local competitors to provide more events for local loggers and their families. The Friday evening venue featured our “Best In The Bush” competition, which is for north island competitors only, plus the Youth (8-11) and Teen (12-15) competitions. Saturday was the Novice and Intermediate categories and Sunday featured the Ladies and Professionals. This show maintained the Largest in Canada status for the 5th year in a row.
The popular area for the children & teens was the Kid’s Area. The Salmon Festival paid the operator through gate receipts, donations and grants to provided the bouncers, train ride, climbing wall, mechanical bull, face painting and portrait sketches FREE to anyone under 19. Besides being a hit with the kids the parents were very happy too as they were not toonied to death, as they put it. . Most important to Salmon Festival was, regardless to the family’s financial situation every kid or teen had unlimited fun all day long.
Our Logging Sports continues to be the largest in Canada and we are noted by the North American Axemen Association as the 5th largest in North America. Once again the competitors and spectators enjoyed our heritage sport.
The 3rd annual Simmer Salmon Sizzler continues to grow and our Friday evening oyster competition and tasting was so popular that we ran out of product before the evening ended.
One of the major draw backs of the Logging Sports grounds is the lack of bleachers for the spectators. This year the City replaced a number of bleachers in other parks and donated the used sets for the Logger Sports. With the assistance of the local building material suppliers these units are being refurbished and a number will be ready for the 2011 show
Besides running our own event the Salmon Festival assisted 37 other groups with their event by supplying free use of our assets and assistance to set them up. By supplying the assets free it is estimated that these groups saved around $25,000.00 which helped their charitable endeavor.
Salmon Festival again took the Canada Day Celebration to those in the 4 senior’s lodges that were unable to attend the downtown festivities. With the help of the MP, MLA, Mayor, Police & Fire Departments, CFB Comox and Quality Foods for the cakes the seniors enjoyed tea, cake and festivities with the dignitaries. With the help of the Rotary we presented the Annual Canada Day Parade and assisted other groups with their portion of the Celebration
At our 44th Annual SalmonFest, August 5-7 at Nunns Creek Park) Logger Sports wowed the crowd by the performance of the local and international competitors. This year a number of competitors came from United States, New Zealand and Australia demonstrated their skills as they placed in the top 5 in a number of events.
2011 was also a banner year for National and International Television Coverage. On Saturday NBC Adventure Sports covered a portion of our show and on Sunday we were filmed by Canadian Sports Production for TSN.
Along with the Logger Sports we presented out 4th annual Summer Salmon Sizzler (Salmon Cooking Competition) and provided free Children’s activities and rides for those 18 and under.
We also gave assistance to 35 other Community Groups by providing free use of our assets and saving them just over $28,000.00
Salmon Festival continued to be a cosponsor of the Campbell River Canada Day Celebration which was a huge success and enjoyed by most of the community and visitors. Many residents of the Comox Valley (our southern neighbour) came to enjoy our Parade, Stage Entertainment and Fireworks.
At SalmonFest (August 10-12) our world class Logger Sports was once again a success with both the competitors and spectators and was filmed for the 5th time for the TSN Television Lumberjack Series. Our 2011 & 2012 Logging Sports were also put on YouTube which means they are now world wide.
This year we changed the name of our Salmon Sizzler event to Seafood Cook-Off as we added a number of other seafood varieties to the competitions. We also introduced a demonstration area where chefs could show the public how to prepare and cook a variety of seafoods. These changes were well received.
This year we assisted 38 other groups with free use of our assets saving them $29,140.00.
We continue to cosponsor the Canada Day Celebration, but this year we transferred the Parade and Youth Fishing Derby to the Canada Day Committee which is now a well established group. This allows the committee to make decisions regarding the events and fits in better for insurance coverage. We will continue to do the Senior’s Canada Day Celebrations at the 4 lodges, financially sponsor some events and provide free use of our our assets and manpower.
At SalmonFest (Aug. 9-11) our Logger Sports event drew more competitors than expected. The event went into overtime on all 3 days to handle the additional local, regional, national and international competitors. This event continues to be ranked No. 1 in Canada and 4th in North America which was made possible by the generosity of our many sponsors.
Our Seafood Cook-Off enjoyed another successful year with more spectators taking part in the demonstration portion of the event.
This year Thrifty Foods became the title sponsor of our Free Children’s Activities and the event was titled Thrifty Foods Kids Zone. Because of theirs and other sponsors support the rides, face painting, etc. were made free to everyone 18 and under.
Once again we assisted 38 Community groups with free use of our assets allowing them to put an additional $29,000.00 toward their charitable projects.
SalmonFest 2014 was another successful event with our Logging Sports maintaining its status in Canada and North America. This year we were filmed again for TSN and Dutch TV filmed a portion of their reality show Ruben and Geraldine during the event. Ruben & Geraldine competed in 5 events as part of their show assignments which were log rolling, choker race, single hand bucking, axe throwing and power saw bucking. Geraldine won 3 of the 5 events.
Children continued to enjoy FREE activities in the Thrifty Foods Kids Zone and a wrestling event and Dog Show was added to the roster.
More sponsors took advantage of the Trade Show opportunity providing some great displays.
42 Community groups were assisted by Salmon Festival through free use of our assets and the savings ($30,000.00) went towards Charitable Community projects.
Despite the rain on Saturday it was a successful Festival with our main Event, the Logger Sports Competition, seeing more competitors in all classes. In the open or professional class competitors hailed from New Zealand, Australia, Europe, United States and many Canadian Provinces. And a special thanks to our sponsors who helped us retain our No.1 standing in Canada for prize package and number of events.
The Trade Show area had an increase in booths and at the main entrance there were more large logging equipment on display by our sponsors.
With the continued support of many sponsors the youth and teens (18 and under) enjoyed the many FREE rides and activities in the “Thrifty Foods Kid’s Zone” and the “Go Dog Go” show was back for a second year.
Salmon Festival assisted over 50 community groups with free use of our assets and volunteer labour by Directors for a savings of $35,000.00. These savings will assist their charitable endeavor.
Another year with rainy periods, but it was successful. Our World Class Logger Sports, with a prize package of $37,645, drew local, national and international competitors and was a huge success. On Friday evening many Youths (8-11) and Teens (12-15) tried their hand at some Logger Sports to win some of the $2,400 in prize money for their divisions and Kenny Nelson and His Kids took the top honors in our Local “Best In The Bush Competition” Novice and Intermediate divisions competed on Saturday and the Ladies and Pros filled the Sunday schedule. For the Pros, Stirling Hart from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada took the “Over All Logger” title
Again, a lot a families attended the Salmon Festival and their children (18 & under) enjoyed the FREE Kid’s Activities (bouncers, climbing wall, face painting, train ride, etc.) There were also many booths, displays, food and drink available for the Festival Goer’s and in the evenings some entertainment by local groups.
For our giving back program, Salmon Festival assisted over 50 Community Groups with free use of our assets and volunteer labour. This not only assisted our the Community groups, but our businesses also saved, as the groups did not have to seek donations, to rent the items.
2017 – 50th Anniversary
It seems like only yesterday that the Campbell River Canoe Club started a Festival that has gone on to become an icon for Campbell River. Over the years the Salmon Festival has presented many events with some going on to become a separate Festival (Canada Day Celebration) and some being phased out for various reasons (fishing derby, mining sports, raw Oyster Eating Competition and Cod Jiggers Stomp dance. One event that has endured the test of time and now the Salmon Festival’s major event is the Logger Sports. From a demonstration in 1975, it has grown to a World Class Competition that attracts competitors from other countries and attracts national and international television networks.
As Logging Sports is our major event it was decided that it should be special for our 50th and since we attract a number of Americans each year, a Canada verses United States would be appropriate, plus it would attract TV networks. The Canadian and American Logger Sports Associations were informed of our plans and the event became a reality.
Representing Canada were competitors from British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and representing United States were competitors from New York, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Although the competitions were very tough, when the chips and sawdust finally fell, Canada had a 3 point lead. it is hoped that the United States will take up the challenge and try and dethrone us at a competition in their country and possibly become a yearly event. This competition was also filmed and will be aired on a number of networks starting this fall.
Due to the good weather this year, many families attended and their children enjoyed the FREE activities and the Go Dog Go event. Kenny Shaw and the Peanut Gallery entertained the crowd after the Logger Sports on Friday and Saturday evening and there were various booths for people to check out or purchase an item or two. And keeping with our name our spectators enjoyed barbequed salmon lunches and suppers in the food court.
Hopefully the Salmon Festival will be a part of Campbell River for another 50 years