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Kake heals with annual celebration

Posted: August 7, 2013 - 12:08am
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Judge John Parton watches as Scott Devlin beats Josh Wooton during a arm wrestling match during the Dog Salmon Festival in Kake on Saturday.  Jennifer Canfield | Juneau Empire
Jennifer Canfield | Juneau Empire
Judge John Parton watches as Scott Devlin beats Josh Wooton during a arm wrestling match during the Dog Salmon Festival in Kake on Saturday.

At the tail end of an unusually sunny stretch of weather in Southeast Alaska, the community of Kake gathered for the 19th annual Dog Salmon Festival. The Aug. 3 celebration was a welcome reprieve for the small town, which has suffered several major losses this year.

“We’ve been having a funeral every month for the last six or seven months,” said Pete Martin, a lifelong Kake resident. “This is good to see everyone out and celebrating in the sun.”

The festival started in 1995 as way for the community to celebrate its fishing economy. The yearly gathering is a good reason for those who have moved away to Juneau or elsewhere to return home to visit family and friends. Kake Tribal Corporation and Kake Tribal Heritage hosted the event this year.

Festival-goers said there were fewer visitors this year than in previous years. Usually a catamaran or two will bring in visitors from Juneau, but none came this year.

This year’s theme for the festival was “In Honor of the Veterans.” Marvin Kadake, an 80-year-old Marine veteran who served in Korea, said Kake has a strong and proud history of military service.

“From World War I to this very day we’ve always had someone in the war,” Kadake said. “We’ve always had someone representing Kake in the wars and surprisingly we all came home.”

Kadake said fewer Kake men joined the military after the war in Vietnam but that he thinks that’s starting to change. He said Kake’s youth are starting to see military service as a good choice for their future.

The main attractions of the festival featured Kake’s youth competing in everything from bubble gum blowing trials and soda chugging contests to arm wrestling matches and fish tote races.

Vendors offered homemade jams, seal meat and t-shirts for sale. A free dinner of salmon, salads and sweets was offered at the end of the day for everyone at the festival.

• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at

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