Downeast Salmon Smelt Fry set in Columbia Falls

Posted April 16, 2011, at 2:18 p.m.
Last modified April 17, 2011, at 4:27 p.m.

COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine — The Downeast Salmon Federation will hold itsannual Smelt Fry, which has been drawing more than 500 smelt lovers each spring, beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, April 22, at the Columbia Falls Fire Department grounds.

Despite a recent oil spill that contaminated the smelt spawning grounds at the Pleasant River, DSF Executive Director Dwayne Shaw said, all of the smelt for the fry were caught, cleaned and frozen before the spill occurred.

The popularity of the Smelt Fry has grown from a gathering of 50 people 20 years ago at the Wild Salmon Resource Center.

“With attendance having been consistently over 500 we continue to revise our hosting plan to accommodate such a crowd,” Shaw said. This year, DSF has arranged for an even larger tent with hot dogs, smelts and the popular bounce house for the kids outside. There will also be “church supper” style food tables to alleviate the wait time and better provide everyone with a good meal.

The smelts will be deep-fried by volunteers and served alongside choices of chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans and blueberry cobbler, to highlight regional natural food resources. Attendees who bring a dessert to share will receive a $2 discount on admission. This year the cost will be $6 for adults, $4 for children with a maximum of $20 for families.

DSF also will showcase and present awards for artwork submitted to the 2011 annual Downeast Salmon Federation Student Art Contest.

The federation’s Pleasant River Hatchery, located at the Wild Salmon Resource Center in Columbia Falls, will be open for tours before the meal. The hatchery is now in operation and raising Pleasant River wild Atlantic salmon fry for release in May. DSF is also running a project at the hatchery to evaluate the effects of water quality on endangered Atlantic salmon.  

There will also be tours of the newly erected Downeast Heritage Fish Camp. The Wild Salmon Resource Center and the hatchery facilities will be open for public tours from 4 to 5 p.m. the day of the Smelt Fry.

For more information, contact 483-4336 or info@mainesalmonrivers.org.

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