Kake calls on chums to join in festival honoring fisherman Ernie Williams

Ninth chum festival includes races, dance and Tlingit wedding

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2003

For most of the summer, Kake Foods is a bustling factory that produces thousands of pounds of value-added seafood products a day. But on Saturday, July 19, it will be party central for Kake citizens and their "chums."

The 9th Annual Kake Dog Salmon Festival is a day-long party that includes a five-mile "chum run," a fish-fillet contest, bicycle races and the annual "Challenge of the Chums" canoe race. Kake is a community of about 750 people on Kupreanof Island, about 95 miles southwest of Juneau.

This year's festival is in honor of Ernest "Jack" Williams, a lifelong Kake resident and one of Kake Foods' top fishermen, who died earlier this year.

"Be a chum and come on over," said Gordon Jackson, chairman of Kake Tribal Corp., the village Native corporation that owns Kake Foods.

Jackson, one of the founders of the festival, specifically invited those over the age of 50 to join him in the five-mile Chum Run.

"I hold the record for 50 and over," he said. "But of course, I'm the only one who enters, so I'm looking for challengers."

Last year, race prizes were $100 for first place and $50 for second place.

The festival begins at 11 a.m. with a traditional Tlingit wedding. The vows for couple Sherie James and Curt Taylor will be spoken in Tlingit, with family members clad in traditional regalia. The dance troupe Keex' Kwaan will give a traditional Tlingit performance at the ceremony.

Other events include tote races and a survival suit race, where contestants swim between two docks fully decked out in deep-sea survival suits.

The Kake High School athletic club is holding a semi-formal dance on the evening of the festival, according to Janet Sheldon, a coordinator for the festival. Admission to the dance is $5, and all proceeds will go to the athletic club.

Catamarans are chartered to depart from Juneau and Sitka on the day of the event. Round-trip tickets for the day trip run $100. For more information call 723-5253 or contact Sheldon at (907) 785-3221.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.

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