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Celebrating Steveston, a tradition on July 1

The annual party's roots go back to 1944 to honour Richmond's farming and fishing industries

For close to seven decades the Steveston Salmon Festival has been the focus of a community celebration on a number of fronts.

Since 1944, the event has honoured Richmond's roots as a community founded on farming and fishing.

Plus, it provides the opportunity to mark Canada's birthday on July 1 as crowds line the streets to watch the long line of floats make their way through the historic fishing village and surrounding neighbourhoods.

The event started out as a sports day-themed celebration on Dominion Day as a fundraiser to construct a playground at Steveston Park.

In 1946, the tradition of appointing a "Salmon Queen" was started. It was a clear reflection of the town, which owed a great part of its prosperity to the numerous canneries that lined the waterfront which at one time earned the area the name "Cannery Channel."

That reputation of the town, and the Salmon Festival was enhanced in 1946 when the Dominion Day celebrations in Vancouver - the first one following the end of the Second World War - featured parade floats publicizing the Salmon Queen Carnival.

The message worked, as the crowds followed from Vancouver and ended up lining Moncton Street. The event had transcended from a sports day to a carnival.

Today, the Steveston Salmon Festival draws people from all across the community and beyond for a fun-filled day that echoes the past with time-honoured traditions such as the salmon bake that serves up more than 1,200 pounds of wild sockeye, athletic demonstrations of Kendo and Judo, the reflective serenity of a Japanese Tea Ceremony, and attention to the detail of Bonsai.

For more details on what is in store at the 68th Steveston Salmon Festival, visit stevestonsalmonfest.ca.

praphael@richmond-news.com

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