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2nd Annual Herring Run Festival Happening This Weekend

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This Saturday and Sunday (April 25th and 26th) Plimoth Plantation is hosting the second annual Herring Run Festival at Plimoth Grist Mill. The event honors the annual “running” of the herring from the ocean to Billington Sea via Town Brook. These fish were integral to the Mayflower Pilgrims’ survival, as they provided both food and fertilizer for the settlers and the Wampanoag.
This year’s Herring Run Festival is especially exciting, as it marks the latest milestone in restoring Town Brook river herring run to allow for many more herring to reach their spawning grounds at Billington Sea. Over the past 400 years, several dams were created on Town Brook to harness its water power to operate corn, wood, and iron mills, which lowered the amount of herring passing through the brook from 1 million to just 150,000. By removing the final dam, the Plymco Dam, the herring can now swim unassisted to an additional 269 acres of spawning habitat in the Town Brook watershed.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “restoration efforts in Town Brook began over a decade ago when, in 2002, the Town of Plymouth worked with NOAA and other state and federal partners to remove the Billington Street Dam. This was the first Massachusetts dam to be removed for the restoration of diadromous fish populations. Dams at Newfield Street and the Jenney Grist Mill were improved with improved fish ladders. An additional dam at Water Street was lowered by 12 inches in 2013, and that same year the Off-Billington Street Dam was removed.”
The Holmes Dam is the last dam that remains a significant barrier in Town Brook. NOAA has set a goal of removing the Holmes Dam in 2017 and completing the restoration of Town Brook in time for the 2020 commemoration.
This weekend, Town Brook will be filled with migrating herring swimming upstream, and visitors can help scientists count the herring to study the impact of removing the Plymco Dam. Visitors can also take guided tours of Town Brook ecology and preservation representatives.
There will be food, music, and tons of educational activities at the Plimoth Grist Mill and Town Brook this weekend, so stop by and learn about this nationally-acclaimed restoration project! Plymouth 400 will be at the event to share information on our own upcoming events and programs (like the Bass & Blue tournament!).
Check out Plimoth Plantation’s website for a full schedule of events.

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