By Bill Schlichting
Pilot staff writer
There may not have been an ocean salmon fishing season, but that did not deter the festive atmosphere at the Port of Brookings Harbor boardwalk Saturday.
Had a salmon season been open during the Labor Day weekend, this would have been the sixth derby. However, organizers did not want to give up on the festivities, so they chose to have a "salmon celebration" barbecue in conjunction with the weekly farmers market on the boardwalk.
Working together worked.
"I was pretty pleased," said Jim Relaford, salmon festival organizer.
"We had a much, much bigger market," said Vi Burton, farmers market organizer about combining the two events.
The weekly farmers market offers 50 spaces, but has been averaging 34. At Saturday's market, there were 47, Burton said. Many of the vendors sold out sooner because of the larger-than-usual crowd.
The number of people buying produce and hand-crafted items at the weekly market was reflected in the attendance of the annual salmon event.
At least 230 dinners offering a choice of a burger or a sausage dog, with potato salad and watermelon were sold, Relaford said.
"One thing I found interesting was that no fishing didn't stop people from coming here," Burton said. "I want to thank the Slam'n Salmon folks for including us."
Among those attending the event was last year's salmon derby winner, Cindy Carman of Medford. Last year she won $5,000 in the derby. Because she couldn't fish, she thought she would try her luck at winning $1,800 in gas by entering the Ducky Derby at the Lion's Club booth.
People also showed up because they had been buying a Slam'n Salmon Derby shirt every year and they have a collection going, Relaford said.
Relaford said organizers will be lobbying for a salmon season for Labor Day 2009.
"I think we have a good case," Relaford said. "If it's open for the Sacramento, there should be enough (salmon) for the coast."
Burton said she hopes the salmon derby organizers include the farmers market in next year's festivities as well.