Submitted by the Horsefly River Roundtable —
Plans are well underway for the Horsefly River Salmon Festival featuring family-friendly events, information, and entertainment to welcome the majestic Sockeye back home to their spawning grounds at Horsefly River.
The festival, hosted by the Horsefly River Roundtable, takes place Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27 across the bridge in downtown Horsefly on T’exelc (Williams Lake Indian Band) and Xatśūll (Soda Creek/ Deep Creek) traditional territory. This free, all-ages celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. Activities will include kids’ crafts with Maureen Chappell’s Creative Hands, painting a salmon for the Stream of Dreams Project, Gyotaku (Japanese fish printing), DFO salmon education booth and demonstrations, salmon dissection, bannock from Cody William, Scout Island’s kids’ interactive activities and games about river invertebrates, and, on Saturday only, Horsefly River Riparian Trail interpretive walks. Mount Polley Mine representatives will also be participating, to provide information and answer questions on the Hazeltine rehabilitation work undertaken since the tailings dam breach a year ago.
Plan to stick around on Saturday night to enjoy musical entertainment at the community hall, held as a fundraiser for Arts on the Fly. Watch for more information on the evening entertainment line up.
“Those who come to visit Horsefly and welcome in the Sockeye salmon September 26 and 27 will get to enjoy a range of fun, family-friendly activities while learning about the important role salmon and local waterways play in our lives and the environment,” said Maureen LeBourdais, Fraser Basin Council’s regional manager in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
Ernie Gruhs, chair of the Horsefly River Roundtable, adds: “Attendees will also learn what we can all do to help the Horsefly River Roundtable achieve and maintain healthy community watersheds.” From Hell’s Gate the Sockeye head up the Fraser River, and then swim past the mouths of both the Thompson and Chilko rivers to the mouth of the Quesnel River.
From there, they head up to the mouth of Horsefly River before continuing to their spawning grounds in Horsefly, BC where they lay their eggs to ensure the cycle continues. Averaging about 27 kilometres a day, it takes about 23 days for the Sockeye to make the 620-kilometre trip.
The question on everyone’s mind is, “how many will make it this year?” It’s still too early, DFO says, to definitively predict how big the Horsefly Sockeye run will be. Most reports show the Sockeye are in good condition, but due to the summer’s hot temperatures, the number of salmon making their way to the spawning grounds in the Quesnel system this year is expected to be lower than originally anticipated. Fraser River temperatures have been at a record high and above average for the entire season, with flows that have been at or tracking record lows.
The Horsefly River Salmon Festival is held in conjunction with BC Rivers Day, September 27. BC Rivers Day events are hosted by recreational clubs, conservation organizations, community groups, schools, and local governments to help generate public awareness about BC’s waterways. The festival also coincides with Culture Days, held to celebrate creative communities.
This year’s Horsefly River Salmon Festival is a collaborative event hosted by the Horsefly River Roundtable with support from Fraser Basin Council, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society.