The Steveston Salmon Festival is one of the biggest events of the year in RIchmond as thousands from all over the Lower Mainland gather to celebrate Canada Day as well as our favorite, iconic West Coast fish. You’ll see all kinds of Canadians throw on their Vancouver 2010 gear and waving flags. We may not be the richest or the most powerful country around but dammit, we Canadians love us some Canada. I always complain that Vancouver isn’t fun enough but in terms of living, you can’t beat the small temperature swings, the clean air (you don’t know how good we have it in that sense…), and the fact that we can play beach volleyball and ski in the same day two hours apart.
If you’re unfamiliar with Richmond traffic, you’re in for a surprise. Steveston isn’t a very big place and it is simply packed during the Salmon Festival. Finding parking on a regular day is difficult enough but getting to the Salmon Festival in a car is near impossible. There were jams that extended several blocks…suburb blocks so the best way to get there is to park 5 minutes away and walk. I live in the area so finding a friend with a free driveway isn’t a big deal but if you’re from out of town, just park along the side streets. The locals are understanding for one afternoon.
What’s there to do at the Salmon Festival? Eat salmon, of course. The main event is the salmon steaks grilling on an open wood fire. The smoky smell of fish roasting away is intoxicating but I had already had lunch and I’ve had the salmon in years past so I wasn’t about to stand in the enormous line (at least 60-70 people when I got there). The $15 is a little steep for a piece of salmon along with a small salad and bun but I believe the proceeds go toward the Steveston community centre.
Food is a big part of the Salmon Festival but there’s also plenty of other attractions and events. There’s a parade around noon and live music on stage all day.
If you’re bringing the kids, there’s some enormous bouncy castles and slides for them to tire themselves out on so they can sleep and you can relax on your way home.
I wasn’t allowed on the bouncy castle so I went to sample the various food stands popped up in the community centre parking lot. Like the study group in Community, I freakin’ love kettle corn.
While the sweet and salty were there, the popcorn didn’t taste quite fresh enough. Some pieces were a little chewy so I was glad I just bought a small bag ($3).
The Salmon Festival is a great example of how multicultural Canada is as cuisines from all over the world are represented. Where else are you going to find Hawaiian shaved ice next to somewhere called Sausage Serious? ..oh, Serious Sausage? That makes way more sense.
These guys were working on a yakitori assembly line.
This stand had quite a line as well for some Filipino barbeque, something I love getting from Georgio’s in Vancouver.
The pork skewers ($3) are tender and juicy but not particularly flavorful. There’s a significant lack of char, which is surprising considering how many grills they had going in that tent. Gordon Ramsay is always saying “No color, no flavor.”.
These fresh squeeze lemonades were fantastic, though. I got mine with a shot of lime in there as well. Not too sweet, plenty of lemons, great for walking around on a sunny day.
I like how the red in the Steveston and maple leaf pops.
I had read about these shirts in the local paper a few weeks ago but never got around to Sara’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream to grab one. Profits go to Lord Byng Elementary and the shirts have been a huge success. Unfortunately, some douche broke in to the ice cream shop and stole some of the money.
Of course, if you’re in Steveston, there’s always good seafood within yelling distance. The docks are regularly crowded with people on Sundays looking for fresh deals but even more so on Canada Day. A friend of mine bought a whole octopus!
If you’re looking for something to do on Canada Day, check out the Salmon Festival in Steveston. It’s family friendly fun that doesn’t require a second mortgage. Steveston is a great place to spend Sunday but it’s even better when it’s packed full of wacky Canadians celebrating their country’s birthday. It looked like the Olympics were in town again.