As the Sockeye Salmon return to Horsefly River, the community celebrates with a commemorative festival.
Horsefly Salmon Festival organizer Judy Hillaby, a retired biologist who has studied Sockeye Salmon for years, is excited to be seeing such a large return of Sockeye Salmon. A seasonal event, Hillaby says the Horsefly River sees a spawning season like this only once, roughly, every four years.
Due to 2014’s Mount Polley tailings pond breach, Hillaby was concerned they’d see fewer salmon than ever this year, but instead, are seeing the largest numbers in years.
“So we are having a celebration to remark on the return of the Sockeye Salmon,” Hillaby said.
She says this natural event is especially important for the region, as the fish bring vital nutrients to the Horsefly River and the surrounding region. As such, the festival happening Sept. 15 to 16 is designed around recognizing and celebrating their ecological importance.
“We will have performing musicians, vendors, live fish dissection and various kids crafts,” Hillaby listed, adding they will also have aquariums filled with fish and bugs, informational booths and an underwater camera set out by Hillaby herself.
Hillaby advises attendees to go on the Salmon walk, a one-kilometre walk from the festival sight down to the downstream channel at the end of the run that then loops back to the festival through the floodplain. Hikers will be able to see spawning salmon everywhere and according to Hillaby there will be enough to watch all week, should one want to.
“I think the people of the Cariboo-Chilcotin will appreciate being right up close to these big, beautiful, red fish. They are the stars of the show here,” Hillaby said.