Salmon Jam brings art to Cordovans year-round. Photo by Haisman Photography

By Barclay Kopchak

Cordova Arts & Pageants’ energetic volunteers are busily coordinating all the moving parts that will make Salmon Jam 2023 a happening event this July 14 & July 15.

Replacing the tent lost to last summer’s storm and shredded beyond repair is a big challenge. Then there’s booking musicians, organizing food and craft vendors, ordering compostable cups, preparing the sound system, and so much more. It is, to be sure, a lot of work. Why bother?

So we can turn Salmon Jam ticket money into more art.

That’s really our bottom line. Salmon Jam is our big fundraiser. Making summer memories, watching local artists perform, and savoring Small Fry events are all part of our mission to bring the arts to Cordovans. But more importantly, this summer fun translates into winter concerts, school experiences, and scholarships for Cordovans year-round.

It costs a lot of money to bring performers and workshops to our little fishing town. The Cordova Arts & Pageants board strives to offer a variety of performances from hip hop to dance bands to classical piano. We make sure every artist also offers an in-school concert or community workshop. We select acts already booked by other Alaskan venues to limit transportation costs and rely on our volunteer network to provide all the legwork (promotion, ticket sales, transport, etc.) that putting on a concert entails. But that still leaves airfare, hotel rooms, and artists’ fees, which can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Concert ticket sales can only recoup a portion of these costs — even if we have a full house. And that’s where Salmon Jam is vital, allowing us to make up the difference to bring new art to town.


Salmon Jam also allows us to promote the arts in other ways. We sponsor annual arts scholarships to Cordova High School grads. We bring in big screen movies. We contributed to the Shorebird Festival workshop with naturalist illustrator John Muir Laws run by the Net Loft. Our Murder Mystery Evening was a great success this winter.

We invite your input and participation. All this community art couldn’t happen without you … or without Salmon Jam.

Barclay Kopchak is a Cordova Arts and Pageants board member.