Salmonstocker Early Bird passes are now available for Salmonstock, the fourth annual art-centric union of salmon loving Alaskans. Tickets are offered until March 31 only, for the cheapest way to cut a rug at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, August 1-3.
As preparations mature, Jim Stearns, Music and Production Coordinator said, has no doubt this year will produce another monumental festival.
The volume of applications from local bands has mushroomed and the influx of volunteers, vendors and staff has grown exponentially, not to mention tickets sales, which have steadily increased by the thousands since the festival’s introduction, he said.
This year Stearns projects a potential sell-out; the festival’s first to do so. After pounding away at what Stearns refers to as “a perverse pleasure,” he is now resting on his laurels.
“People are now buying tickets for the festival, not the individual acts,” said Stearns, who has built a fixture unrivaled in the Alaskan community stemming from his 20-plus years coordinating musical festivals.
One of Stearns co-worker’s recently recalled a discussion between him and his 5-year-old son. The boy said his two favorite holidays were Christmas and Salmonstock, Stearns said.
His knowledge and connections in the music industry have contributed to an eclectic crop of local, Top 40 and all around well-respected acts.
Keller Williams has already been announced for the 2014 festival. Big names like Brandi Carlile, Trampled by Turtles and Robert Randolph have performed in previous years.
While offers for this year’s popular bands are still under negotiation, and choosing the 30 local acts will not be finalized until after the application deadline in early April, Stearns is confident they will ultimately announce another prodigious line-up, one that will not disappoint, he said.
Stearns suggests buying tickets in advance, which hold a value unbeatable by even national standards, he said. Festivals of this caliber in the lower 48 states run between $50-100 more.
Planning ahead also helps the sponsors, The Renewable Resources Foundation and Renewable Resources Coalition to plan the volume of resources necessary to put together a comfortable venue. For Stearns, building a cohesive atmosphere is equally as important as providing quality entertainment.
Piecing together a positive event that focuses on the state’s most coveted resource takes a huge work force, said Communications Director Kate Huber. Benefits for the much-needed hands of volunteers include one day of free admittance to those who work 4 hours.
Huber said she savors the variety of people drawn by the diversity of eateries, amusement, local art and educational activities that also makes the event uniquely family friendly. Children under the age of 12 have free admittance.
“Salmonstock was born out of a need to celebrate,” said Huber. “It is a great reason for a party.”
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at Kelly.Sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com