Kicking the Festival off!

The Sitka Herring Festival starts on Saturday, March 19th with Discovery Days at the Sitka Sound Science Center and the start of the Herring Derby!

But, before we get too carried away, we have to first welcome the herring by blessing Herring Rock.  Yaaw T’eiyí, or Herring Rock, is a cultural landmark of the Kiks.ádi clan, and because of its historical roots, a member of the Kiks.ádi clan  will perform the ceremony which now takes place on Katlian Street, in front of the Naa Kahídi Community House.

Join Sitka Herring Festival at 11am on Friday, March 18th at the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi for the blessing and light refreshments!


Derby Flyer


2016 Herring Festival Events


Events going on around town during Sitka Herring Festival:

Blessing of Herring Rock
March 12

It’s Officially Herring Season! This celebration marks the beginning of a long season of subsistence harvests.  The Blessing of the Herring Rock, or Yaaw T’eiyí is an annual ritual marking the commencement of the subsistence herring egg season.  There are many Tlingit stories where herring play an active role.  In one story, a girl sitting by the rock let her hair down, letting the ends of her hair reach the salty water.  It was then that the little forage fish began to lay eggs in her hair.

Yaaw T’eiyí is a cultural landmark of the Kiks.ádi clan, and because of its historical roots, a member of the Kiks.ádi clan performs the ceremony which now takes place on Katlian Street, in front of the Naa Kahídi.


Herring Derby
March 19-April 9

Can’t wait for the Salmon Derby? The 3rd Annual Herring Derby is here for you.   The Herring Derby is a free fishing competition for youths under 18 to jig for herring around town and enter to win some awesome prizes.  Entering the Derby is easy.  At anytime between March 19 and April 9, any herring caught by youth under 18 are eligible for entry.  Just bring your biggest catch of the day to The Healing House at 429 Katlian.  Let our biologists show you how to measure the length and weight of your fish and learn how to record your data.

Fish can be turned in 9am-5pm Monday-Friday and 3pm-6pm on Saturday and Sunday at 429 Katlian.

Participants will need to provide their own equipment, or can rent it at the Sitka Sound Science Center, 834 Lincoln Street.

Derby Flyer


Discovery Days
March 19

Spring is around the corner and so are the herring!  Members of the Sitka Sound Science Center can celebrate herring during Discovery Days on March 19 from 10 AM – 12 Noon.  Jessica Gill will lead explorations about herring and their life cycle.


Food Web Cruise
March 26

The Sitka WhaleFest kicks off each spring with an annual cruise to explore the wildlife in Sitka Sound.  From the spawning herring to the feeding whales, you will enjoy an exciting and up-close experience with the food web at this time of year.  Hear from marine mammal biologists, historians, researchers, and other experts while enjoying a fresh, European-style breakfast buffet, donated by local businesses and friends of the Sitka Sound Science Center.   Aboard a catamaran from Allen Marine, we depart Crescent Harbor on Saturday, March 26th at 9:00 am and return by 12:00 pm.  Tickets are $55/person and will be available at Old Harbor Books and online on March 3, 2016.


Wearable Arts
March 26

This year’s Wearable Arts Show, hosted by Greater Sitka Arts Council, will have a new addition! A team of local artists has decided to dedicate their piece in this year’s Wearable Arts to the growing number of pounds of garbage that ends up littering the oceans and destroying the lives of a multitude of species.  Their piece will be an intense, underwater style performance of the unnecessary obstacles that littering has on indigenous species in the Pacific Ocean.  This piece will undoubtedly showcase herring and their spawning grounds and the impacts excess waste has on their livelihood.


ArtiGras Artwalk
April 1

This year’s Artwalk, hosted by Greater Sitka Arts Council, will have a new addition!  In case you have never been to an art walk in Sitka before, the gallery walk is an opportunity for Sitkans to view new work from local artists, both emerging and established.  Sitka Herring Festival will be providing a space for community art at the Naa Kahídi on Katlian Street.  Come visit us from 5pm-8pm, and while you’re at it, enjoy some herring dishes inspired from worldly cuisines.  Make some herring prints from casts made possible from UAS, and hand carved linocut from other herring enthusiasts in town and from as far away as Göteborg, Sweden.  See you there!


Logo Contest
Due April 1

Every year, the Herring Festival brands itself with a new logo.  Now it’s your turn.  Enter a submission on an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper for your chance to win $100 and the bragging rights to next year’s Festival Logo.  Contest submission should be turned in at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska office at 456 Katlian Street, or via email to, and should have LOGO CONTEST clearly marked on the submission. Entries must be received by NOON on Friday, April 1st, 2016.

More info can be found here.


Herring Fun Run
April 2

The herring are RUNNING!  The Herring Fun Run is brought to you by Sitka Community Schools.  Starting at 8:30am, Saturday, April 2, you can run for fun or try for a best time! Grab your friends and take a tour of the National Historical Park, running both loops and coming out a winner!


Community Potluck
April 7

Please join us for a community dinner, brought to you by all your neighbors! This potluck style dinner is a casual event, perfect for winding down the Herring Festival.  Guest speaker, Ilona Kemp-Noordeloos, is a PhD. student at University of Alaska Fairbanks who will be presenting on Herring and the Human Element in the Bristol Bay Fisheries.  Please bring a dish to share and the rest will follow.  Potluck will take place at Sweetland Hall on the Sitka Fine Arts Campus, from 6pm-8pm Thursday, April 7.


Derby Awards
April 12

Cannon Ball!!!!!  This year’s Herring Derby Award Ceremony will be a splash! Enjoy a free, VIP swim at Blatchley Pool, Tuesday, April 12 from 5:30-7:30.  This exclusive event is only for folks who participated in the Herring Derby and their families.  Root Beer Floats will follow in the Blatchley Common room!


If you need more information about these events, contact Jessica at 747-7168 or email

Herring Spawn Classic

House Bill 294: An Act relating to Herring Spawn Classics

The Sitka Tribe of Alaska is pleased to announce the introduction of a new bill for a game of chance to generate revenue for the Herring Festival.

“Spawn classic” means a game of chance where prize money is awarded for the closest guess of the post-season preliminary estimate of nautical miles of shoreline receiving spawn of Pacific herring, as determined by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game from aerial surveys, between March and May, and is limited to the Sitka Herring Spawn Classic operated and administered by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Sitka Herring Festival.

Proceeds of the Herring Spawn Classic will be used to fund herring and science educational programs in Southeast Alaska including the Sitka Herring Festival and Yaa Khusgé Yaaw Woogoo- The Knowledge of Herring Camp, non-profit operations and services provided by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and other eligible expenses under the Charitable Gaming Permit for Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

Expect more details to follow as HB 294 works through the Alaska Legislature (after finalizing a budget of course!)


You feel it in the air; you see it in the lengthening days; you smell it with the changing tides.  That’s right, herring season (and Spring!) is right around the corner!  And with the arrival of the herring comes the second annual Sitka Herring Festival, a month of fantastic event for adults and kids alike!

First, for the adults. This year, we’ve been able to bring an excellent speaker from Stonybrook University in New York thanks to a generous donation from Sealaska.  On April 7th in Centennial Hall, Dr. Ellen Pikitch will present on herring management and conservation throughout the world.  Dr. Pikitch was one of the leading scientists on the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, is a pioneer in ocean conservation, and is a leader in ecosystem-based management of fisheries.  This event will be a potluck style, so please bring a dish to share.  We’re very excited to have her here during the herring season!

In addition to the community potluck, there will be a talk at the University of Alaska Southeast from Dr. Shingo Hamada.  Dr. Hamada is an anthropologist at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan.  His talk will be on Herring Fisheries and Food Culture in Japan.  Mark your calendars for Monday, March 23rd at 7:30PM in UAS room 218.  This is a partnership from the Natural History Seminar Series with UAS and the Sitka Sound Science Center.  All are welcome, but be sure to bring your questions!

But what would a festival be without fun activities for the kids? This year’s festival will also include Yaa Khusgé Yaaw Woogoo- The Knowledge of Herring Camp.  This is a free, hands-on spring break camp connecting kids to culture that will take place from March 16th to March 20th.  Youth between sixth and eighth grade are welcome and encouraged to participate.  More information can be found at Sitka National Historical Park.  Feel free to or pick up an application at the main office of STA or at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center!

For those who like a little competition, there’s the Herring Derby and the Herring Run.  Like last year, the Herring Derby will be a fun event for kids and parents to participate in.  The Derby starts on Friday, March 20th and continues through April 6th.  Weigh your fish at 429 Katlian, every day: Monday-Fridays from 9am-4:30pm, and weekends 5pm-7pm.  May the best (biggest) fish win!  Also like last year, Sitka Community Schools will host the Herring Run.  The run will start at 11:00 A.M. on April 4th at Centennial Hall and will weave through Totem Park before returning to Centennial Hall.  Herring swim in schools, so bring your friends!

There will be more fun and educational events during the Festival, including a 4H class through Sitka Conservation Society, Herring in the Hallway at Keet, Discovery Days at the Sitka Sound Science Center, and a herring film showing.  The herring film will be shown on Friday March 27th at 7pm and Saturday March 28th at 2pm.  For the dancers among us, there will also be a Herring Hop from 6pm-11pm on Saturday March 28th at ANB Hall.  The Herring Hop is a fundraiser for the Cape Decision Lighthouse Society.  The Herring Festival will also feature a Food Web Cruise on Saturday, March 21st as a fundraiser for another fantastic festival, the Sitka Whalefest.

More info for all these events can be found at or at our Facebook page.  Or you can email or call 747-7168!

Herring Derby!

Herring Derby!

Join the Sitka Herring Festival from March 23rd- April 4th to weigh your biggest herring!

One herring per weigh-in.
Weigh-ins will be 5-7PM weekdays at 429 Katlian, and 5-7PM weekends at Thomsen Harbor.
Make sure to have your parents present!

Always wear a life jacket in the harbor!
Remember-No casting!

Elks Benefit Dinner!

Sunday, November 17th, at 5:30PM, the Sitka Herring Festival will host a benefit dinner.  A silent auction will take place.  Dinner will be available for purchase.  Questions can be directed to or to 907-747-7168.


Hope to see you there!