Philomath High School students perform during Saturday night's Salmon & Jazz fundraiser. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Philomath Rotary Club’s fundraising efforts through the Salmon & Jazz dinner returned for the first time since 2019 this past weekend. The money brought in by the Philomath chapter will go to Rotary’s various youth programs in the community, which includes local scholarships.

This has been an annual tradition in Philomath for more than two decades now with the first one occurring on May 11, 2001. Called the “Salmon Dinner and Jazz Fest,” the event was held in the early years at Clemens Primary School.

Philomath Rotary Club President Dan Dusek leads a game of “Heads or Tails.” (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Over the years, the format appears to have remained pretty much the same. Raffles were a part of the evening in the early years and a silent auction appears to have been held for the first time in 2007 when funds were being raised to try to match a Nike grant for the high school’s track renovation project.

Salmon & Jazz moved to the Philomath Scout Lodge in 2009 and remained at that venue until 2016 when it started its run at the high school.

My wife and I were able to attend this event for the second time. Dan Dusek, Rotary president, started the evening with a few comments and he later led an entertaining game of “heads or tails” with a gentleman sitting at our table winning. Tables off to one side of the auditorium held the silent auction items and my wife seemed to be having no problem putting her name down to bid on several items (although we didn’t win anything).

A topic of conversation during dinner was how delicious the pesto ranch dressing was on the salad. Naturally, I had to go against the grain and ordered the vinaigrette. The food was pretty good even though I ordered chicken at a dinner with “salmon” in its name. (Actually, when I purchased the tickets, you needed to indicate right away if you wanted salmon or chicken and not knowing how my wife would order, I just got one of each).

Philomath High’s jazz band played a number of selections after dinner. Several folks took advantage of the opportunity to kick up their heels on the “dance floor.”

A silent auction raised money for the Rotary Club’s programs. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

I’ve spoken to the Rotary Club a couple of times during my time in Philomath — once as editor of the Philomath Express and now as publisher of the Philomath News. In fact, that latter talk happened just last month. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the club as a former Rotarian myself in the late 1990s and early 2000s when I was editor of the Grand Canyon News.

We had our meetings in the dining room of the historic El Tovar Hotel, which is located right on the South Rim of the Canyon. You can imagine the awesome views we enjoyed and we almost always had visiting Rotarians from around the world stop by as guests.

Hopefully, the local chapter raised some good money for its various causes.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.