One thing for sure, there is a bottomless well of very interesting people in Arcata, California. I decided to start documenting many of the more colorful people I come across. With the waining days of warm sunshine, and my busy fieldwork schedule, I can only spend a couple of hours each weekend roaming around downtown Arcata, looking for people to photograph. Here’s my first attempt.
It was a gray and rainy day, but it did not deter hundreds of people joining the festivities on the Arcata Plaza for the 38th Annual North County Fair and Harvest Festival. Those who did not go south to the EarthDance, the last one to be held in Laytonville, came for music, crafts and lots of great food. Where else but in Arcata can you find booth after booth of wholesome and delicious vegan and vegetarian food at a fair? From the Same Old People website: “The North Country Fair is an annual two-day festival held on the Arcata Plaza in Arcata, CA every September since it’s inception in 1974. The fair includes around 200 craft, food, and information booths, two parades, two stages, and a lawn performance area. An estimated 10,000 people come from everywhere to help us celebrate the diversity within our community and our world and ring in the change of seasons that accompanies the Autumnal Equinox”.
It has been a year since my hitchhiking and backpacking trip with Chelsea to the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Lost Coast trail. We emerged in Shelter Cove, tired and hungry, from backpacking along the trail, and spent the last night of the trip camping on a bluff above a beautiful black beach. That trip was the catalyst for my move from Juneau, Alaska to northern California four months later. Ironically enough, at the same time next year, I would find myself in Shelter Cove again, working for the California Department of Fish and Game.
Towards the end of the king salmon season in northern California, which this year was from June through early September, natives of the Yurok Tribe were allowed to commercially gillnet 13,000 [corrected 16 October] king salmon from the mouth of the Klamath River. With no bag limit and the price of kings over $4 a pound, close to 200 gillnets were set along the last two miles of the river on August 22nd, the season opener for this fishery.
Thanks to Bob and his assistant, who were working for the tribe counting the fishermen and their catch, I was able to spend several hours zipping up and down the river, taking photos. The whole commotion looked like one big party, with many families picnicking on the river bank, or just dropping by to observe.
I was surprised to see how many women, and especially young women and girls fished. Probably quarter of all fishermen (yes, yes) were women. And they didn’t just come along for a ride. Some boats were exclusively female-powered, while on others, older men drove the skiffs and drank beer, while young women shook the nets clean of algae and landed the fish.
It took a couple of weeks to land the allocated quota and close the fishery. Observing the fishery on the first day made me ponder. With most Yurok fishing in aluminum boats with modern outboards and monofilament gillnets, how close was this festivity to the original subsistence-based way of harvesting the king salmon. Perhaps, it is a silly comparison.
Too see all photos in this series, click here.
I was planning on reminiscing about my last day with the Ocean Salmon Project in Shelter Cove, and how a year ago, I emerged there from a camping trip that would eventually bring about my move to northern Cali. Instead, a 2-mile side-track to Garberville on the way to Shelter Cove revealed a small treasure trove of pictures.
I looked up the movie “Salt”. It’s about an alleged Russian spy. How appropriate. Angelina Jolie. Julia Roberts. Perhaps I should be able to tell them apart. Or, combining the two movies together, and the leading actresses, and throwing in refined sugar for good measure, would’ve made for a more interesting plot. At least less chicky.
Treats is the ice cream parlor. The only place in town to get a milk shake or ice cream. Or so I’ve been told anyway, by folks in Redway, two miles away. That’s what brought me to Garberville this time. “Treats for everyone”, to quote Kate.
What can I say about the income tax + guns shop? It also houses a visitors center and a pot accessories shop. Thus the formula: pot + guns – taxes = happy tourists.