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North Bend's Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration Brings Yummy to S. Oregon Coast

Published 08/24/23 at 5:47 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

North Bend's Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration Brings Yummy to S. Oregon Coast

(Coos Bay, Oregon) – Perhaps for tens of thousands of years, local tribes have inhabited the southwest corner of Oregon, flourishing among its forests, rivers and the beaches of the south Oregon coast. Likely that entire time, the salmon was the most important species to the Coos, Lower Umpqua, Siuslaw and Coquille people of the area. (Courtesy photo)

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The region is full of tidal flats that have remnants of fishing stake weirs – large collections of wooden stakes in the muds to aid in catching fish. Carbon dating has some going back nearly 4,000 years.

Each year, the First Nations people would celebrate the salmon with a feast, usually the first feast of the season that was to open salmon fishing.

Now, salmon celebrations are a common occurrence in some Oregon coast towns, including North Bend on the south Oregon coast, where The Mill Casino puts on its 18th annual Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration. Everybody can get in on some delish fish. September 9 and 10 brings the scrumptious and action-packed event held outdoors, with not only a traditional salmon bake but dancers, native drumming, canoe races, cultural booths, a variety of family activities, vendors with native arts & crafts, displays of indigenous life in the region, and a lot more at this free event.

On Saturday, September 9, the meal is served from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. On the next day it goes until 4 p.m.

Pre-sale tickets already went up in August and are available at local store Ko-Kwel Gifts. Pre-sale meal tickets are $35 for adults and $30 for children ages 12 and under, and include swag like a commemorative t-shirt. At the event itself, meal tickets are $27 for adults and $20 for children.

What's on the menu? A traditionally-prepared salmon cooked over a pit, along with brown rice (with cranberries and grilled hazelnuts), and traditional fry bread (with huckleberry jam and butter). A variety of beverages such as coffee and sodas will be available.

There will be a booth at the festival selling fry bread for $5 and fry bread tacos for $10, raising money for south Oregon coast tribal elders' programs.

The tribal canoe races happen here over the weekend, with canoes often being constructed in a way very similar to the traditional means – although for various reasons they have to use more modern materials rather than the absolute ancient way. Participants utilize as much of the traditional techniques as possible, often as a means of reaffirming their connection to their tribes and helping to re-establish some of what has been lost.

Live entertainment includes authentic Native dance, drumming and flutes.

All of it happening outdoors, tribal vendors and craftsmen will be performing demonstrations and providing hands-on activities to the public. See the event website. The Mill Casino, North Bend, Oregon. 800.953.4800 | 541.756.8800

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Photos courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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