Contributed photo Owen visited five dams on his last family vacation.

Young Friday Harbor Film Festival fan | Guest Column

By Theresa Simendinger

Last year, Manager John Hamilton was too busy with two full restaurants during the Friday Harbor Film Festival to view the two films Cask N Schooner and Tops’l sponsored. I told him later that one of the films, “Damnation,” about the civil disobedience that started the removal of the Elwha Dam, was my favorite. Curiosity got the better of John and he bought a copy of the film and watched it with his 5-year-old son Owen.

The big surprise was that Owen loved the film and has demanded to watch it several times a week since. Owen loved the story of the dam being taken out and the fish returning. The Hamilton family just returned from, what wife, Althonsine, called their “Damcation” — five dam visits along the way. All because Owen has become an enthusiast.

The FHFF founders and the army of volunteers couldn’t be more pleased. This is what its all about — to educate, entertain and inspire the leaders of tomorrow. From all indication, it’s working. The festival’s young filmmakers have gone on to win prestigious awards and community works have arisen in the schools from ideas shared at the festival. If the community can inspire young people, there is hope for tomorrow.

I called an island favorite, Lee Taylor — who is now deputy superintendent at Olympic National Park — to check in on whats happening, now that the Elwha and Glines Dams have been removed.

“The NPS decided to take down the two dams as it was a great opportunity to restore the Elwha River, one of the great rivers of the Northwest,” said Taylor.

Taylor said that high numbers of salmon have been spotted way upriver of the dam sites where salmon had not been seen for years.

“Salmon are the lifeblood for humans and all living things,” remarked Taylor.

This year, Cask N Schooner is sponsoring “Memory of Fish,” about the salmon returning upriver past the old Elwha Dam site to spawn.

Guess who is excited to see it?