The Depoe Bay Chamber announced the cancellation of this year's Salmon Bake. According to the chamber despite the their best efforts, they were unable to secure key resources crucial for the event. Unfortunately, without these important pieces, the chamber cannot proceed with the event as planned. The Salmon Bake event has been held for over 65-years with the exception of 2020 and 2021 due to covid. It did return last year.
On July 11th at the Depoe Bay city council meeting it was reported to the city by staff that the chamber may not be able to put on this year's Salmon Bake. The main reason given was a lack of volunteers. With the salmon bake sheduled just a few months from now, the city said it was not something they could take on this late in the game. There was also a concern about fire issues, as we have had very little rain and we are seeing drought conditions. The city council agreed that their role is a support role and not one of running the event. They said they will look into exploring options for next year.
After this announcement the matter was brought up again at the July 18th city council meeting with how to move forward with 2024 and beyond. Jake DePoe spoke to the council of the importance of the salmon bake as a community gathering. Loretta Miles commented that the Salmon Bake is one of the two big events that the community is known for. She said she would like to see the event be focused on the culture and back more on the community and suggested creating a 501-C3 to run it.
Mellissa Sumner of the Depoe Bay Chamber reported that the chamber did not try to put the salmon bake back on the city. She said the chamber members have been working on the event for the past several months securing a tent, getting the permit for the use of the park, sanitation and more. Sumner pointed out that they have been working to get salmon, however prices for salmon and scarcity have been creating a problem. She said the biggest struggle in putting on the event however is getting enough volunteers. "We thought if it could be a city event than maybe more volunteers would come forward, because that is where we are lacking." Sumner said.
She pointed out that they have been holding volunteer meetings with a total of 5 people showing up. She said they have sent out notices and have not gotten any responses. Sumner suggested that the chamber step away from hosting events and focus on supporting the businesses. Councilor Fran Recht said she was disappointed in the annimosity between long time citizens, the city and the chamber. She said " I know what it is like to be the target of negative comments."
Noelie Achen said they were told by multiple people that the event last year was great. She said it is hard to see so many negative comments from people and it makes things unproductive. "One person said they have over 17 people who are willing to help volunteer for the event but they won't do it if the chamber is involved. This points a really negative picture, if we want events like this to happen it means working toghether and public negativity doesn't help anyone. If certain people won't work with the chamber how is that going to help anything get done?"
Mayor Short said she feels it has come down to lack of communitication, pointing out that not everyone is on facebook and some are not receiving emails. Councilor Beasley also said the negaitivity greatly affects what happens. He moved to have citizens wishing to be involved to come toghether with the chamber to try to work things out and the city would make the community center available for that purpose. The Depoe Bay chamber said they are taking this as an opportunity to revaluate, and refocus on the chamber's core mission, which is to support, promote, and advocate for their member businesses.