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King Sam to Swim Through Salmonfest

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The King is here, just in time for Salmonfest. Josh Nordstrom is a local tile artist in Homer, but in his spare summer time he works on creating new artistic events for Salmonfest with Jim Stearns, the producer and director of the festival.

This year they are introducing King Sam, a 20-foot long, 8-foot tall puppet designed to look like an actual king salmon. Nordstrom said that the parade puppet is engineered to be permanent. "He’s hopefully going to be the mascot of the festival from here on out,” Nordstrom said.

Nordstrom and volunteers worked on building the puppet in three separate teams for about three months.  Charlotte Whiteley drew up the design, Nordstrom and a team of volunteers built the body and Sharon Vrla painted the fish.

The head and tail are made of paper måché, and the body is made out of PEX pipes and Styrofoam. It is light enough for six volunteers to raise high above their heads to form the appearance of a fish swimming through the crowd.

Nordstrom describes the puppet as fresh out of the ocean, as though he were just starting to spawn. "He’s got a little bit of a hump on his back, his jaw’s hooked just a little bit, he’s bright silver, he’s got the dark on his back and the fins and the black jaw. Yeah, it’s going to look like a 20-foot live king salmon. It’s going to be pretty amazing," Nordstrom said.

Like King Sam, Nordstrom said the parade is going to be a permanent event, and they hope to include new puppets and additions in the years to come.

The parade will start at the Rodeo Arena gate at 3:35 p.m. Aug. 6 and will travel to the Ocean Stage Meadow. Salmonfest takes place at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, and runs from Aug. 5-7. Headliners include the Indigo Girls, Trampled by Turtles, the Woodbrothers, and Quixotic.