Even though there is no commercial season on the Klamath this year, fish was still the star of the show at the Yurok Tribe’s annual Salmon Festival.
While boys and girls dressed in traditional regalia for the Strong Able Boy and Beautiful Girl Inside and Out contests, Oscar Gensaw seasoned individual-sized pieces of salmon, sockeye and king salmon from Alaska, skewered them onto redwood stakes and put them into the fire to roast over madrone logs.
“Last year we didn’t cook any fish to make a statement that this is the state our river’s in,” said Gensaw, who has been cooking salmon for about 15 years. “This year we have fish, but we’re still making that same statement. Our river’s still not healthy.”
During the event, some stood in line for a fish dinner, others browsed among a multitude of vendors and classic cars lining Klamath Boulevard. Many crowded around the field near Klamath Boulevard to watch the annual stick game tournament.
Rey Martinez and his son, Rey Martinez III, came from McKinleyville to play for the Klamath team, which was dressed in black. He and his son competed against a team from Crescent City, who wore green T-shirts and green shorts. But, Martinez pointed out, players come from all over the North Coast.
“The Hupas play it, the Karuks play it and the Tolowas play it,” he said. “It’s real competitive, the kids enjoy it.”