Return of the Salmon running through Sultan

The Return of the Salmon Celebration committee would like to invite the Sky Valley community to join them as they usher in the fall and welcome the salmon that return to the Sultan River every year to spawn.

The fourth annual Return of the Salmon Celebration will take place 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, at Osprey Park. Each year, the committee has incorporated new elements into the family friendly event, which include activities for kids, a native welcoming ceremony and riverside fish viewing tours.

This year marks the second annual 5K Salmon Run, which begins at 10 a.m., with a slower-paced 1-mile walk starting at 10:30.

The event will feature a welcoming presentation by Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick and storytelling by Lower Elwha S'klallam tribe member Roger Fernandes and Tulalip storyteller Lois Landgrebe. There also will be performances by American Indian flute player Peter Ali and a master cedar weaving demonstration.

Celebration organizers are anticipating high numbers of pink salmon during this year's event. The pinks, also known as humpies, are on a unique two-year cycle and only come through during odd-numbered years.-á

"Osprey Park here in Sultan is the best place to watch the salmon come up and spawn because of all the little trails and footbridges,GÇ¥ said Debbie Copple, executive director for the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce. "You can watch what's happening in nature without interfering in nature.GÇ¥

Nonprofit vendors at the celebration will include the Edmonds Community College Leaf Program, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pilchuck Audubon Society, Skykomish Valley Indian Education, Sound Salmon Solutions, the Sultan Historical Society, the Sierra Club and Wild Washington Rivers. Big Bear's Indian Tacos will be on hand as a food vendor.

KC Letterman of Let "Er Buck Corrals will offer rides on a horse-drawn covered wagon, ferrying attendees back and forth from Osprey Park to the Sultan High School salmon hatchery. Riverside tours of the new Osprey Park trail system will be ongoing throughout the day, giving attendees a firsthand look at the pink salmon as they arrive back at their birthplace.

"It's really an educational event ' but a fun event,GÇ¥ Copple said.

To committee volunteers, the Return of the Salmon Celebration is about more than just the salmon that return to the Sultan River to spawn. It's about tradition, heritage and reverence for the past, honor Chief John T'seul-Ted, for whom the city of Sultan is named.

A likeness of "Sultan John,GÇ¥ as he was commonly known, stands 13-feet tall and is located in River Park near the corner of First and Main. It is believed that people in the area simplified his name to "SultanGÇ¥ because they found T'seul-Ted too difficult to pronounce.

The chief of a subgroup of the Snohomish Tribe, T'seul-Ted was born and raised near what is the city of Sultan today. His birthday is unknown, but he was thought to be nearly 70 years old at the time of his death. He lived in Sultan most of his life.

Each year, Chief T'seul-Ted's great, great granddaughter, Patricia Linn, is honored during the celebration.

The Return of the Salmon Celebration committee is seeking additional participants, including volunteers, vendors and sponsors. For more information on how to help support the event, contact committee chairman Craig Young at 425-359-8936.

Volunteers are needed to help facilitate the 5K Salmon Run. The entry fee for the run is $20 through Sept. 15 and $30 after that. The 1-mile fun walk registration fee is $15.

Registration is available from 9:15-9:55 a.m. before the event at the Sultan Visitors Information Center, 320 Main St. To register online, go to To receive an application in the mail, call Debbie Copple at 360-793-0983 or

Photos by Chris Hendrickson Every odd-numbered year, pink salmon fight their way up to the Sultan River to spawn. Salmon born in 2015 will return in 2017. Sultan City Councilmember Marianne Naslund volunteered to paint faces during the 2013 Return of the Salmon Celebration.


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