The Bristol Bay Fish Expo is just weeks away as the region gears up for the world’s biggest sockeye salmon fishery. It’s the third year for the event at Naknek, the fishing hub for 10 major seafood processors and a fleet of nearly 1000 boats. Expo began as a fundraiser –

“There was no child care whatsoever where we live in the community. And several moms who needed to work, wanted to work, there were no options.”

Sharon Thompson is Expo co-organizer and board president of Little Angels Childcare Academy that is funded by the event.

The expo so far has raised nearly $40,000 to open the doors and pay staff.  Little Angels received its state license this week to serve up to 15 children, up from four.

“It has been the reason that Little Angles could continue existing while we got through this process”.

Thompson says the Fish Expo is on track to match or beat the 50 trade show vendors from last year, many from across the country.

Other features include the premiere of The Wild, a film by Mark Titus. It’s subtitled “How Do You Save What You Love?

“A lot of the Bristol Bay residents who are featured in that film will be there and he’s also bringing a celebrity chef from Seattle.”

That would be renowned sushi chef Taichi Kitamura who will be serving salmon appetizers and dishes.

Two of the biggest Expo hits are the Fashion and Wearable Art Show followed by an Auction featuring Bristol Bay fisherman Kurt Olson–

“He’s a commercial fisherman in the Nushagak. He’s hilarious so he’s going to be our auctioneer and it’s going to be a really fun event.”

Thompson says invitations have been sent to Alaska’s policy makers –

 “Those who are in public service and our politicians who at this time are forming the policies that are going to affect everything from our industry to our way of life. So we are putting invites out to Senator Murkowski, Governor Dunleavy, a lot of other policy makers because it is an important part of our show.”

The Expo theme this year is “feeding our families and fueling our dreams,” which Thompson says is exactly what the Bristol Bay salmon do.

 “We are just so grateful because our wild salmon resource is supporting all of this. In times of budget crisis, they’re putting food on our table, food in our freezers, and really the wild salmon has provided a child care facility.”

Donations are needed for the auction. The Bristol Bay Fish Expo is set for June 9 and 10 at the Naknek school.

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