Thousands come out to 25th Oroville Salmon Festival for fun, education


DWR biologist displaying a salmon carcass to three individuals on a raft at Feather River.

DWR biologist gives salmon spawning rafting tour at the 2019 Oroville Salmon Festival. DWR/2019

The celebration of the return of fall-run Chinook salmon from the ocean to the Feather River marked a milestone Sept. 28 as thousands of visitors and residents turned out for the Oroville Salmon Festival’s 25th anniversary.

Morning rain didn’t dampen spirits as hundreds took advantage of the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) tours of the Feather River Fish Hatchery to watch fish jump up the fish ladder and see first-hand how hatchery staff process the fish to get their eggs and fertilize them. Fish are reared in long ponds called raceways until they are large enough to be returned to the river for their swim back to the Pacific Ocean.

The Hatchery, operated by Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), was built by DWR to mitigate the impact Oroville Dam had on Chinook and steelhead populations.

Crossing the historic 1907 Green Bridge across the Feather River to downtown Oroville’s “Salmon Court”, visitors found music, barbeque, salmon tastings, a street fair, and kids’ activities to enjoy.

DWR provided an interactive booth displaying how the Feather River watershed sends water to Lake Oroville and then downstream. This model was a big hit with kids who enjoyed creating “rain” and releasing water from the dam. Visitors also learned how flows from Oroville Dam support the Feather River salmon fishery and farms that grow the food we eat and contributes to the water supply of 27 million Californians.

This year also saw the return of the very popular Salmon Float raft tours of the Feather River. A DWR environmental scientist accompanied each raft to share information about fish habitat, the Chinook’s life cycle and behavior, and what DWR does to create a healthy spawning environment for salmon. Participants viewed salmon spawning in the riverbed and gained a better appreciation for recreational opportunities on the Feather River.

The Oroville Salmon Festival is organized through a partnership between many organizations in the Oroville community. DWR is a major sponsor.

The Feather River Fish Hatchery remains open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. Tours can be arranged by contacting DWR tour guide Jana Frazier at (530) 534-2306.

View our Salmon Festival 2019 Pixel Gallery for more images of the festival.