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Salmon Festival Spawns Knowledge
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Fred Rich, left, and Ken Narita of the Oakdale Lions Club ham it up a little as they show a salmon to Ashley Stott, 10, during the Salmon Festival hosted Saturday in Knights Ferry. The Lions Club served barbeque salmon to festival attendees. - photo by PHOTO BY DONNELLE MACHO

In what they hope will be an annual event, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported about 1,500 people attended the 2009 Salmon Festival in Knights Ferry on Saturday, Nov. 7.

“We were thrilled with the attendance,” admitted J.D. Wikert of the Wildlife Service.

Numerous organizations staffed booths at the festival, including the Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center, the California Department of Fish and Game, The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, as well as a number of river protection and education groups on hand with information.

The Oakdale Lions Club was also on hand, serving barbequed salmon filets.

Some organizations offered face painting for children, while others allowed kids to decorate T-shirts, primarily with fish prints.

“We had a lot of kids attend,” said Lisa Dolling of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

That was part of the goal, officials said, as getting kids involved with wildlife and the environment at an early age will hopefully stir an interest in preserving them.

Other features of the day were historic tours of Knights Ferry, music, fly fishing demonstrations and more.

Diane Bartlett, a librarian with the Stanislaus County Library system, attended the festival looking for programs the library can use.

“The statewide theme for libraries next year is water,” she said as she visited booths.

“My daughter recently graduated with a degree in Zoology, and is looking for internships,” she added.

One of the demonstrations offered this year was a discussion of the California Department of Fish and Game’s salmon carcass study. Jenny O’Brien and Dennis Blakeman, biologists with Fish and Game, noted officials are conducting their annual survey of salmon carcasses, including those found on the Stanislaus, Merced, and Tuolumne rivers.

“We examine the otolith, or ear bone,” said O’Brien, indicating this helps determine the age of the salmon.

Blakeman said biologists cut found fish in half, in order to not recount them in their survey.