John Bruce cuts out more than a thousand foot-long pieces of wood for miniature boats every year. He volunteers to help children create boats from the blocks at the Fishermen's Fall Festival...

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Name: John Bruce.

Hometown: Resides in Kingston, grew up in Ballard.

Affiliation: Volunteer for the Fishermen’s Fall Festival, personnel manager for Jubilee Fisheries.

How long he has been involved: Since creation of the festival 15 years ago.

Fish-cooking tip: Put a fillet of halibut topped with butter, salt and pepper in the microwave for about 3 minutes. It’s fast and tasty, according to this longtime fisherman.

His story: John Bruce cuts out more than a thousand foot-long pieces of wood for miniature boats every year.

He volunteers to help children create boats from the blocks at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal.

“It just takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it when you see the kids down there having such a good time, pounding away at the table with their hammer and nails,” said Bruce.

With the assistance of his son and daughter, he helps children assemble innocuous wooden chunks, dowels, string and paper flags into fantasy masterpieces in the minds of their makers.

Afterward, some children test their crafts by plopping them in the water.

Others simply carry them around the festival. Either way, the event gives them a little more exposure to the life of a fisherman.

Originally hailed as a welcome-home party for the salmon-fishing fleet returning from Alaska, the festival now draws a diverse crowd of up to 7,000 people.

While the festival may provide an exciting and lighthearted introduction to fishing, Bruce’s own introduction to the business was less than pleasant.

“I hated it, absolutely hated it; no showers, crummy, dirty all the time, long hours,” said Bruce of his first fishing expedition to Alaska in the 1970s on a vessel with his brother. “And when we finished a trip, we used to jump overboard in the middle of the gulf just to get clean, just to rinse off.”

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Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival features hundreds of wooden boats, exhibits of maritime skill, and live entertainment, Sept. 10-12; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, $6-24. 360-385-3628 or

But when he returned to Washington and received his cut of the profits, he began to see fishing as a more livable occupation. He quit his job in the Oroweat Foods marketing division and hasn’t left the fishing industry since.

He acknowledges, “I got hooked on fishing.”

For the Fishermen’s Fall Festival, he’s helped raise awareness of the safety features on vessels by conducting survival-suit races.

Teams of fishermen leap into their survival suits, zip up the Neoprene overalls, jump into the water and swim 30 yards to a raft as fast as they can.

The festival also features a salmon-filleting contest, an “oyster and shoot” contest, a salmon barbecue, explanations of different fish species, safety-awareness booths and more.

His summer event: Despite its name, Fishermen’s Fall Festival is near the tag-end of summer: Sept. 11, 11 a.m.-dusk, Fishermen’s Terminal, 1900 W. Nickerson St., Seattle; free. More information: 425-455-0732.

— Jennifer Lloyd, staff reporter