The first annual Bristol Bay Fish Expo next month at Naknek has a dual purpose. Naknek swells from about 400 to 12,000 people when the sockeye salmon fishery gets underway each summer. The theme of Bridging the Bay aims to connect the community with the salmon fishing and processing sector.

Every year they have people come here who are yoga instructors and swim teachers and artists and carpenters. A huge vast collection of talent that we have sitting around our community.  How can we capture that and make it a part of our summer? 

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Katie Copps-Wilson is an Expo organizer, and a physician’s assistant at the Camai Community Health Center. As a clinic liaison with the processing companies, she discovered the disconnect a few summers ago.

And out of this relationship I realized how so many people come into our community but don’t get to be a part of our community and they really want to be – they are here and never make it past their campus. 

At a ‘meet and greet’ dinner last year with local processors, it was clear more people wanted to bridge the divide. Copps- Wilson says the Fish Expo idea evolved over the winter and took on another cause: fund raising for the Little Angels Child Care Academy.

The lack of child care in our community is causing families to leave, it won’t let businesses employ people because there is no child cares. Every day you can see on our local Bristol Bay Exchange people are desperately seeking child care. These are young families  with young kids that just want to go to work.  And right now they can get work and there is nothing available or very limited as to what a they can do for child care.  These are the people I just want to get this going for. 

The Bristol Bay Borough gave an $80,000 start-up grant last fall for  a building and furnishings. But the money can’t be used for staff payroll.

 The school room is ready. We need to raise $13,000 to open the doors.”

The Fish Expo will help. Already more than 30 groups, agencies and “Made in the Bay” businesses have signed up and the list grows daily. Local artists, movies, food, a fashion show, raffles and , hopefully, a job fair also are in the lineup.

 It’s so fun and exciting what this Expo will bring to the community – with our hopes of ‘bridging the Bay’ and connecting the community and industry. The bottom line is that we all need each other. 

The Bristol Bay Fish Expo is set for June 9 and 10 at the Borough school in Naknek. Sign up to participate or donate at and on Facebook.