Nowhere on Earth does the term “fish sticks” take on such a gourmet meaning as on the Oregon Coast in mid-September, when the Indian-Style Salmon Bake descends on Depoe Bay.
Returning for its 61st year on Saturday, Sept. 16, the mouthwatering event will see a small army of volunteers roast thousands of pounds of salmon to perfection on an 80-foot fire line. The juicy fillets are cooked in a style used for generations by native coastal tribes, held over the fire on alder wood stakes and braced with strips of cedar.
The Salmon Bake is renowned as the Oregon Coast’s signature salmon celebration, drawing salmon lovers from throughout the state to enjoy food, fun and a taste of Native American culture.
Preparations begin months in advance when volunteers head to the woods around Depoe Bay to cut 350 six-foot long stakes of alder wood.
The fire is lit before sunrise on the morning of the event, fueled with six cords of fir and three cords of alder. Thousands of pounds of salmon fillets are positioned on the alder wood stakes over the fire line, imparting rich flavors to the salmon as they roast to perfection.
Guests are invited to tour the fire line and the “fish-off” stations, where volunteers box up the salmon for the short trip across the creek to the dining area in Depoe Bay City Park. Of all the volunteers involved in the event, the “fish-off” crew are the ones worth buttering up. They and they alone decide how to distribute the coveted fish sticks — strips of cedar bedecked with succulent chunks of hot salmon.
With your appetite whetted, head across to the park for a full meal; and eight-ounce salmon steak served with coleslaw, garlic bread and a beverage.
Alongside the meal, guests can enjoy a free program of traditional and native American music and dance as well as a raffle offering thousands of dollars worth of prizes including gift certificates for whale-watching excursions, hotel stays, fishing charters, restaurants, gift shops and more.
This year’s bake will run from 10 am to 5 pm at Depoe Bay City Park, located at the south end of the town’s picturesque harbor. Free shuttles will take visitors to and from the park, as well as from the park to the oceanfront downtown shops, many of which offer special discounts during the Salmon Bake.
Depoe Bay enjoys nearly year-round whale watching and has become known as Oregon’s whale watching capital. During the summer, the long seawall offers exciting views of gray whales feeding just off the rocks, while charter boats offer the chance to see these majestic giants up close.
The Salmon Bake is a non-profit event sponsored by the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and residents. Proceeds help fund Chamber activities as well as town events and improvement projects.
Meal tickets are $23 in advance or $25 at the gate. Advance orders are recommended at the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce website, www.depoebaychamber.org.
For more information, contact the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce at 541-765-2889, toll free 877-485-8348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.