Story last updated at 7/29/2009 - 11:17 am
It's time to cast a line. The 63rd annual Golden North Salmon Derby takes place on August 14, 15 and 16. The fish have already received their invite, and you can snag your ticket August 1.
I remember my first year being here for the derby in 1993. I was amazed at how many "gone fishin'" signs were hanging on the doors. It wasn't until later that I would learn the true purpose of the derby. Sure, fish stories are always great and everyone knows that a "bad day fishing is still better than a good day working," but it's important to remind everyone what the derby is really all about.
Since its inception, the derby has provided thousands of dollars in scholarship money to young Alaskans. There have been 62 derby winners, but hundreds of scholarship recipients - they are the true derby winners.
As many of you have heard, the derby had a difficult start this year. The unthinkable almost happened - no derby! However, an incredible group of individual volunteers and businesses stepped up. Some changes and considerations had to be made, but the end result had to remain the same: to raise as many funds as possible for awarding scholarships.
This has resulted in some exciting changes. Some will go unnoticed, but others are huge! For the first time, you can be a big winner without leaving the docks. Among tickets holders, someone will get a chance to play high fives money bags. It's simple: once you've been selected, you're a winner, but then you get a chance to win more, up to $100,000. You select from concealed amounts until you have five that match. It can be $500, $25,000, $50,000 or up to $100,000.
Don't believe you'll win big? Past winner Brenda Carlson was made a believer when she won $50,000 playing the derby high fives! Remember, you can't win if you don't get a ticket.
Everyone's an instant winner! This year with each ticket you purchase you are entitled to a tackle bag filled with your official guide to the derby and also free goodies, including a free Subway sandwich coupon.
This year the derby presents 50 great prizes for 50 years of statehood. With offering 50 top prizes this year, the minimum value of prizes have gone up.
One difficult decision that had to be made this year, due to cost, was eliminating the packer on the south side. The funds for this were simply not available. Folks will need to bring their fish into the docks for weighing. This has saved thousands in expenses.
The Capital City Weekly and the Juneau Empire, along with many local businesses, stepped up to absorb the cost of printing the official derby guide as well as provide marketing for the event. This has truly been a great community effort to rally together to preserve what has become a tradition in Southeast Alaska.
Watch for the official derby guide inserted in the CCW on August 5 and the Juneau Empire on August 7. Be sure to say thanks to the many businesses that have donated prizes and provided marketing support.
Another exciting feature this year will be live derby updates at capitalcityweekly.com and juneauempire.com. Follow on your phone or computer using Twitter or Facebook as well. We'll have photos and videos of the action as it happens. Honk or wave when you see our floating media center. Pose for a photo or video and let your friends see you instantly!
The derby photo contest continues, so remember to submit your derby highlights that you capture. To all of our die-hard derby fishermen, thank you!
There will be a limit of 3,000 tickets available this year. When they're gone, they're gone. If you plan to fish, do not wait.
So get your ticket, get your boat (or your friend's boat), and get fishin'! See you on the water!
Laura L. Newsom is the general manager of the CCW. E-mail her at email@example.com.