By Nancy Covert
On a cool, grey-sky last Sunday in July—dozens of volunteers, including military personnel, Steilacoom Museum and Key Club members, arrived at Sunnyside Beach early that morning to begin preparations for the traditional Salmon Bake.
The large crew began by husking corn, cooking clams, slicing tomatoes, spooning out cups of three-bean salad, slathering the last of Col. Don’s “Famous Salmon Sauce,” making coffee, preparing the grills, slicing pies, setting up tents and tables…(even Town mayor, Ron Lucas, was spotted cleaning debris from the beach) just dozens of chores to ensure that the afternoon’s guests—about 700* attendees were expected—enjoyed this 30+ year custom.
From the first year, when the “Bake” was held at Saltar’s Point Beach—a real challenge to haul all the material over the railroad overpass bridge down to the graveled beach—to the present, Steilacoom Historical Museum Association’s popular end of July event has always drawn a large crowd of participants.
Usually the weather cooperates, too.
By noon everything was ready for the guests, including Olympia-based musicians who performed Celtic tunes. Many visitors took advantage of the courtesy shuttle bus that transported them to the beach.
After the last salmon dinner was devoured, Museum members cleaned up the site, and hauled supplies back to the museum. Later they’d begin preparations for the next SHMA event—the Apple Squeeze—scheduled for the first Sunday in October.
*The Bake rush began at noon, and was still going strong by about 3:30 p.m. For many Bake-goers it was their first time to enjoy a meal in this wonderful waterside setting. Spotted among the afternoon guests were a trio visiting the area, from University Place’s Sister City in China, Jiang You.