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Take a Swim Upstream to a Top Canadian Birthday Party

Steveston's natural beauty and community events make it the perfect spot for launching a British Columbia adventure. Visitors to the city will love touring historic homes, shopping at one-of-a-kind boutiques, and eating at a variety of restaurants. The city is also the shooting location for the TV show Once Upon a Time, and travelers can take a walking tour of buildings and places featured in the series.


The Steveston Salmon Festival has been a go-to family experience for over seven decades, and this year’s event will take place July 1 on Moncton Street near the Steveston Fisherman's Wharf. The Festival is held to commemorate Canada’s Birthday (150th this year) as well as the rich fishing heritage of the community. It features a huge parade complete with marching bands, floats, politicians, celebrities, mascots, hot-rods, and more. The event has a great selection of entertainers on its Main Stage such as Tom Lavin & The Legendary Powder Blues, Urban Myth, Thor, and Line 49. Attendees can also see great local exhibitors at the Art Show, and check out some beautiful flowers and plants at the professionally judged Horticulture Show. A salmon bake will serve up more than more than 1,200 pounds of filets, and local restaurants will be open during the event. Those attending with the family must plan a visit to the Children's Festival featuring a variety of games and activities, as well as an inflatable carnival and live entertainment for the entire family. We got the opportunity to interview Janice Froese, a representative of the event, to learn about this unique summer celebration.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

JF: The festival has been running since 1945.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

JF: We see an average of between 70,000-80,000 attendees annually.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

JF: The event offers something for everyone.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

JF: It’s a community event, organized primarily by volunteers with a small staff supporting the event. Some organizers are 2nd and 3rd generation Steveston families. The event origin dates back to post-WWII, when a group of families got together and held a "Dominion Day" event and picnic on July 1st to raise money for building a new playground. That year they raised $3,000, which today would be around $40,000.


RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.

JF: The day starts early with a pancake breakfast at 6:30 am, followed by a kids bike parade at 9:30 am (the kids get to travel about 1/2 the length of the big parade route on their decorated bikes, scooters, trikes, and wagons). It is a lot of fun, and it is so neat to see the excitement from the kids waving to the crowds. The big parade starts at 10:00 am and features 100 entries including floats, marching bands, vintage cars, community groups, and people in a variety of costumes. There is an opening ceremony at noon, followed by an assortment of attractions taking place in the afternoon including a children's festival, youth festival, trade show, Japanese Cultural Show, martial arts demonstrations, an inflatable carnival and midway, a food truck festival, and of course the salmon bake.


This year we're serving up 3,000 plates of wild sockeye salmon cooked over open fire pits. On the main stage, our headliner is Tom Lavin and the Legendary Powder Blues Band (our website has the schedule and details). The City of Richmond is also programming Richmond Canada Day in Steveston, and there will be additional attractions, music, vendors, and food in the surrounding village all day long, culminating with a fireworks show at sunset.


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

JF: Tom Lavin and the Legendary Powder Blues is the headliner on the main stage, and the Minions from Despicable Me 3 will be causing mischief near the waterpark in the afternoon. 


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?

JF: We have 20 food trucks, 15 other community food vendors, the salmon bake, and chow mein. Plus, Steveston Village has a wealth of restaurants, cafes, and bistros as well.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

JF: It is a beloved tradition that people look forward to every year.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

JF: We are a non-profit society, and each year the surplus from our event goes toward a new project. For the past three years, we have been building a capital fund for a new playground. In the past, we've built a water park, community garden, accessibility upgrades to the existing playground, and contributed to other projects in the surrounding community.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

JF: The Steveston Salmon Festival gives people the opportunity to experience Canada Day at a community oriented celebration in a unique historic fishing village. Steveston is home to Canada's largest fishing fleet, has a strong Japanese history, and is simply a charming place to visit. The Steveston Salmon Festival is "Canada's biggest little birthday party!"


For more information about the Steveston Salmon Festival, please visit the event website.