The highlight of the annual fundraiser in Manchester: a barbecued salmon dinner. (Friends of the Manchester Library photo)

The highlight of the annual fundraiser in Manchester: a barbecued salmon dinner. (Friends of the Manchester Library photo)

Eat up! Manchester Library’s salmon bake and book sale coming up

It is a Father’s Day tradition in Manchester.

MANCHESTER — For residents of this quaint town that faces Seattle looming across Puget Sound, Father’s Day typically means a plateful of barbecued salmon and baked beans at the community’s annual Salmon Bake and Book Sale.

This fundraiser, created by the nonprofit Friends of the Manchester Library organization, is an almost half-century tradition that has as a centerpiece a meal of wild salmon barbecued by members of the Bow family, over an open pit at the beach. Each year, family members congregate in town to build a fire of alder and fir used to bake the delicacy.

John Winslow, the president of the Friends organization, said the Father’s Day meal this year on Sunday, June 17, will include — as always — hearty baked beans, coleslaw, garlic bread, a beverage of choice and a cookie. He said organizers hope to serve more than 750 dinners this year between the event hours of 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Tickets to the dinner are $15 for adults, $10 for children 6-11 years old and $5 for children 5 and younger. As before, the event will be in the parking lot of the Manchester Library, 8067 E. Main St. Cash or credit cards will be accepted.

Forty-nine years ago, the first salmon bake created the storyline used since then — salmon was grilled on the beach and served on picnic tables at the ferry dock.

Some of the proceeds were used to support the Manchester Library, then housed in a 16-by-24-foot prefab building where the Manchester Veterans Park is today.

Winslow said library patrons soon realized proceeds from the salmon bake could fund construction of a new library building. Since then, it has become an annual event. The Friends of the Manchester Library subsequently were able to obtain a bank loan to build the first part of the library by 1980.

And while the salmon bake event is a labor of love, it does require lots of hours from community volunteers. Winslow said approximately 65 volunteers work to stage the event each year, including a core of eight from the Friends organization who start the planning months in advance. Area businesses help defray the cost of the food and drinks.

Special guest servers will include local politicians, elected officials and library staff members, he added.

The book sale, held concurrently, will offer a selection of vintage and recent fiction and nonfiction reading material, including a variety of children’s books and videos.

The payoff — beyond the fellowship and camaraderie generated between town residents — is the money raised for the library. Last year, the salmon bake and book sale raised about $7,500, which is a significant portion of the library’s $27,500 annual budget. The Friends organization uses the budgeted funds to operate and maintain the building, along with supporting some special library programs.

“This doesn’t go to pay for the library staff or the materials,” Winslow said. “This is used entirely for the upkeep and maintenance of the building.”

The community-owned library is situated in the heart of Manchester and is considered something of a community gathering place, Winslow said.

It is partnered with the Port of Manchester, which owns the land on which the building sits (and is rented to the Friends for $1 a year), and the Kitsap Regional Library system, which provides staff and books. The Long Lake Garden Club created and maintains the exterior landscaping.

“The library is a huge part of Manchester because the people here truly own it,” he said.

“Generations of Manchester residents have grown up with the children’s programs and continue to use the library as adults. Obviously, they want to continue the tradition for their children and grandchildren.”

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