Festivities, food, free fishing rods and fun mark the 13th Kenai River Festival

Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2003

There was something for everyone at the 13th Kenai River Festival, free fishing rods for kids, continuous music by such legends as Hobo Jim, exotic birds of prey, face and fish painting, puppet shows, and a variety of educational booths, and even a place for the politically discontent as well as those working for world peace to express ideas and opinions.

There were kiosks offering original Alaskan arts & crafts, fox furs and lynx hats, displays of award winning ideas to improve the environment in the future, an earthquake house and a pool where kids could pick up a fly that made itself look like a stick and hear about the microbe world of the Kenai River from KPC Professor Dr. David Wartinbee.

Nearly a hundred different organizations, government agencies, groups, and individuals participated in the annual event that was coordinated by the Kenai Watershed Forum. It was a huge volunteer effort according to Kenai Watershed Forum executive director Robert Ruffner who praised the community effort from behind eyes that hadn't seen much sleep for the last few weeks, "It's what a community that lives on a river such as the Kenai should be doing. Peggy Mullen had a great idea when she got people together to start this event," said Ruffner.

Patti Berkhahn, Fishery Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game Division of Sport Fish, coordinated a t-shirt painting booth and a game called the "Wheel of Mis-Fortune," where kids learned how and why only 1 out of 1,000 silver salmon fry make it to adulthood. "These are the kids that are going to grow up and be the stewards of our local resources, and what we teach them now hopefully they'll take home and teach to their parents and that knowledge will go in life through them," said Berkhahn.

The two-day festival drew an estimated 5,000 visitors to the park strip in Kenai. According to Ruffner plans are already underway for next year's festival and anyone with suggestions or wishing to be involved can contact the Kenai River Watershed Forum at 260-5449.

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