The Alberni Valley Tyee Club is returning to its roots, and taking over the annual Labour Day salmon derby in Port Alberni.
“After 50 years of manning the weigh scales for the Salmon Festival Society at the Clutesi Haven Marina, Tyee Landing and more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic for the Ultimate Fishing Town committee at Centennial Pier, it was a natural fit to bring the lure and history of the derby back to the Tyee Club,” said Carolyn Jasken, who is heavily involved in both the Tyee Club and Ultimate Fishing Town.
The derby has been the focus of the annual Salmon Festival at Labour Day for more than 45 years. This year the Tyee Club is focusing on the derby, with the hopes that one day a festival will re-grow around it. The service clubs that took on the festival, first at Clutesi Haven Marina and in recent years Tyee Landing, have seen declining membership and people retiring.
The derby was originally a Tyee Club event, Jasken said, with the first three-day open derby starting in 1939 at Port Alberni’s downtown waterfront, near the old Argyle Street docks (approximately behind The Donut Shop). That was well before Harbour Quay appeared on the waterfront, but the docks were a hive of activity all the same, she said.
She admits this is uncharted territory for the Tyee Club. “We will be reaching out to sponsors for the derby and are looking forward to working alongside the broader business community, Harbour Quay merchants and other organizations who are interested in bringing the community together helping the derby to succeed,” Jasken said.
She said the previous Salmon Fest committee as well as Dan Washington, the Wynans family, Al Ehrenberg, Bob Cole, Enid VanKooten, Port Alberni Port Authority and the countless volunteers who ran the Salmon Fest should be recognized for everything they did to keep the festival running for nearly five decades.
The salmon derby will run Sept. 3, 4 and 5. Limited tickets will go on sale in August at Port Alberni and Bamfield fishing and marine stores. The derby’s weigh-in station will be on Centennial Pier, where people will be able to watch sportfishers bring in their catch. The derby will still have the daily cash prizes along with the daily hidden draws and $5000 bonus for the largest salmon caught.
Proceeds from the derby will go toward infrastructure needs and salmon enhancement projects. The Ultimate Fishing Town committee ran the derby for the past two years, and in June handed out a number of donations. The Alberni Valley Enhancement Association received $6,000 for the hatchery at McLean Mill National Historic Site. Darrin Olson and students at EJ Dunn Elementary accepted a $4,000 donation for the Gently Down the Creek salmon in the classroom program.
Another $5,000 was donated to the West Coast General Hospital Foundation in memory of Brian Dalziel, and approximately $20,000 went to the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
To follow the event and information please go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/avtyeeclub.