Halibut, wood boats share festival honors

Warm autumn skies draw crowds to learn more about halibut and build wooden boats

Under sunny autumn skies, the 24th annual Wooden Boat Festival and Alaska Marine Conservation Council’s Halibut Festival joined forces Sept. 8-11 in Homer, to sing sea chanteys, hear fish poetry, build wooden boats, and enjoy a community fish fry.

It was the second year for the Homer Halibut Festival and sponsors, organized by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, opted to celebrate along with the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society.

The festival, under warm, cloudless skies, began on Sept. 8 with the 2016  CoastWalk, in which citizen volunteers adopt a section of the Kachemak Bay shoreline to survey changes, collect data on marine life and human impact, and clean up litter and marine debris.

The event recognizes Homer as the halibut capital of the world and the importance of halibut to the culture, economy and people of the community, said Kelly Harrell, executive director of AMCC.

Next stop was an evening of sea shanties, tall tales and fish poetry with the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society at Homer’s famous Salty Dawg saloon.

On Sept. 9, volunteers set up the festival shelter and wood stove behind the Pier One Theater on the Homer Spit, in advise of an evening reception at the Islands and Oceans Visitor Center, featuring a halibut ecology talk by Claude Dykstra of the International Pacific Halibut Commission, and a viewing of the film “Tordenskjold” about one of the North Pacific’s historical wooden halibut schooners.


The Wooden Boat Festival on the Homer Spit on Sept. 10 drew a crowd of wooden boat aficionados to watch boat builders at work, and for families to help their youngsters build and paint their own little wooden boats. The Alaska Marine Conservation Council offered a free community fish fry during the afternoon, complete with cole slaw and potato salad made with food donated by local fishermen and farmers.

Then it was on to Alice’s Champagne Palace for a dinner, auction and dancing. Live and silent auction items, including repurposed buoys donated and decorated by Alaskan artists, were auctioned off to benefit KBWBS and AMCC.

The festivities concluded on Sept. 11 with the Halibut Hustle 5K fun run and the conclusion of the Wooden Boat Festival on the Spit.