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POW’s Whalefest to begin on March 29
Whalefest 2018 participants enjoy the humpback whales on March 31, 2018, near Craig. The annual herring spawn brings an abundance of marine wildlife and birds in front of Craig every year. Photo courtesy of Whalefest

Daily News Staff Writer

The Prince of Wales Whalefest will be filling the town of Craig with poetry, music, and marine life education on the last weekend in March.

Dubbed as a “celebration of the herring spawn and return of the abundant wildlife,” the celebration will offer many activities for attendees.

Craig resident and one of many volunteer organizers Kathy Peavey said, in a phone conversation this week while she was out king salmon fishing.

“It’s phenomenal here when the herring are here and the herring are close,” Peavey said.

Peavey said that the first Whalefest was held in 2011, and was inspired by the Whalefest in Sitka, which is a “science festival” offering marine biology lectures, a marine-themed artisan market and more.

The Craig Whalefest will be ushered in at 7 p.m. March 29, at the Hill Bar, with the “Whale Spouts and a Little Stout” event. Event information urges attendees to “bring your favorite maritime (or not) poem, story or song” to participate in the “fisherpoets, poetry and music” occasion.

There also are whale-inspired art classes planned by area artists.

At 8:30 a.m. March 30, Samantha Wilson will guide hikers on an interpretive bird walk at the Christopher David Thibodeau ballfield.

Throughout the day, Saturday, whale-watching ecotours will be offered.

Peavey said there will be a wealth of wildlife for people to enjoy. The influx of herring, she said, brings not only whales, but thousands of sea otters, California sea lions and Steller’s sea lions.

“It’s just a really good time to see Craig,” she said.

At noon on March 30, Wilson, a retired Craig High School biology teacher and outdoor education enthusiast, will lead a guided Sunnahae trail hike.

The educational component of the Whalefest was very important from the beginning, Peavey said. As there is no university in Craig, inviting biologists and wildlife specialists to give lectures was a goal. She said that in the past, University of Alaska Southeast Professor of Marine Biology Jan Straley has visited to give lectures, as has Ketchikan’s Dick Hamlin, a “renowned beachcomber.”

This year, whale biologist Ellen Chenoweth will discuss whale encounters at hatchery release sites, at 6:30 p.m.on March 30 in the Craig High School auditorium.

Also, on the evening of March 30, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Scott Walker will offer a presentation in which he will discuss herring fishing, and will share photos.

There also will be an Xtra-Tuf boot decorating contest Saturday evening, hosted by Felicia McAuley.

The final event, starting at 6:30 p.m. March 31, will be a concert by Nashville-based singer-songwriter Tim Easton, at the Hill Bar.

“It’s a little fun springtime event,” Peavey said.

For more information about the Prince of Wales Whalefest, contact Peavey at peavey@aptalaska.net.