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Salmon Bake: It's a family affair

Given that the Manchester Salmon Bake is held each year on Father’s Day, it’s fitting that a father and his brood are the skillful chefs who prepare the fish for the event.

“We don’t know what we’d do without the Bow family,” said organizer John Winslow, explaining that Manchester resident Bob Bow is joined by his family — including children who come from as far away as Walla Walla and even San Francisco — to “cook up (the salmon) just right every year.”

Beginning with last year, that salmon is wild Alaskan fish, a change Winslow said “we made that cost a bit more, but was well worth the effort, based on the response.”

And while good food is important, of course, Winslow said the event is about much more than the meals served.

It began nearly 40 years ago — 39, to be exact — as a way to help maintain the library, which he noted is actually owned by the Manchester Friends of the Library.

“Everyone thinks the Kitsap Regional Library system owns our building, but the Friends do,” said branch manager Dee D’Haem, explaining that fundraisers like the salmon bake and the more frequent book and plant sales help pay the building’s utility bills and other maintenance.

“For instance, last month our air conditioning unit broke — right during the heat wave, so the timing was perfect,” D’Haem said.

Winslow, the current president of the Manchester Friends, said the group needs to raise about $23,000 a year for maintenance, and the salmon bake provides the largest chunk of that.

“We are hoping to clear about $5,000,” he said, explaining that the goal for Sunday is to serve 700 dinners.

And while the group does buy all the salmon, Winslow said many of the other items come from donations, such as “cole slaw from the Airport Diner, ice from Hi-Joy Bowl, and gift cards from Fred Meyer and Safeway.”

The labor is donated as well, and lending a hand this year will be a chef from Amy’s On The Bay, who Winslow said “will be making sure all the portions are uniformly cut.”

Dozens of other volunteers will be serving Sunday, including KRL director Jill Jean, and local representatives Pat Lantz and Derek Kilmer, who Winslow said has helped the past two years.

“It is a community-defining event,” he said, explaining that while many residents have made the bake part of their Father’s Day Tradition, he doesn’t know why that day was chosen when the fundraiser began.

“I think that’s maybe lost to history,” added D’Haem.

If You Go:

What: Manchester Salmon Bake

When: Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.

Where: Manchester Library, 8067 E. Main Street

How much: Adults, $10; Children, $7; includes salmon, beans, cole slaw, garlic bread and a drink.

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