The chums do come to the Kake Dog Salmon Festival each July.
Salmon leap and splash in the waters around Kake while the annual races and games are held July 22.
``They're here, enjoying the festival like we are,'' said Marvin Kadake, a resident of Kake, about 100 miles south of Juneau on Kupreanof Island.
The salmon become an added obstacle for racers trying to paddle canoes or tippy fish totes. A tote is a large tub usually used to hold salmon.
``One year one dog salmon actually jumped into a tote and it just so happened the ladies were doing the tote and they went over,'' Kadake said.
Kake Tribal Corp. started the Dog Salmon Festival in 1995 to celebrate the halfway point in the season, when 3 million pounds of salmon had been processed.
``It was mid-season and we were trying to break the monotony of working every day,'' said Kake Tribal President Sam Jackson. ``We thought this would help to improve the morale in the community.''
Though the seafood workers don't get the day off, about 300 people from Kake, and almost as many visitors, come for the daylong party.
Jackson expects even more out-of-towners at the festival this year, since the ferry LeConte will make a special trip from Juneau with stops at Hoonah, Angoon and Tenakee Springs on the way to Kake, then wait all day so people can enjoy the festivities.
The biggest event is the Challenge of the Chums Canoe Race. This year at least two teams are expected from Juneau, one from the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium and one from Goldbelt, Juneau's urban Native corporation.
There are also survival suit races, fish filleting contests and a fish toss. Everyone is fed at a community barbecue and picnic.
``It's just a good gathering,'' Kadake said. ``Everybody takes part.''
This article first appeared in the Southeast Empire.
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