This afternoon is Taste of the Nation, one of Utah's best food events, especially in terms of altruism and the food community coming together. See you at Solitude.

But Friday evening was the annual Payson Salmon Run, and it IS Utah's best food event. In terms of what's on the plate.

Every year, Pam Ostermiller, owner of Trifecta floral design and a Payson native, hires a bus and invites friends and family on board to drive down to Payson, feast and ride back to SLC in sated comfort. This year, the trip also served as her rehearsal dinner—Pam was married on Saturday.

We gathered at Trifecta in Sugar House where Tracey Thompson of VineLore presented a tasting of salmon-friendly wines—Oyster Bay chardonnay, Elk Cove pinot noir rose, Adelsheim pinot noir and Zaca Mesa syrah.

Then we boarded the bus and hit I15, with the bride-to-be in charge.

The town of Payson has been putting on the Salmon Run for over 50 years—the town park is packed with Paysonites and ringed with parked tour buses.

The lines are long:

You can't help get a little worried about the salmon supply as you inch along—will there be enough? But there always is. This year, 4,400 pounds of fish were flown from Alaska to Utah.

Giant pit grills are constructed across the street from the park; used to be, Payson firemen did the cooking. Now it takes more manpower, but the cooks are still dressed in firefighting gear. The slabs of fish are mopped with butter and sprinkled with salt and the chicken wire grills leave distinctive grill marks on the fish.

And the whole town pitches in with the serving: High school cheerleaders hand out plates and packets of lemon and butter. Go Mighty Lions!

Boxes of foil-wrapped baked potatoes, vats of fresh corn, a container of cole slaw and a soft roll are plopped on your extra sturdy Chinet plate as you move down the line. Then you enter the salmon-serving area, shrouded in net. Put your plate through the window and you're served a pound of fresh grilled salmon.

Seriously. A massive piece of salmon, two inches thick. Pick up a cookie and a bottle of water—no beer or wine, this is a Utah family event—and find a place at the tables.

Music comes from the stage under the trees where a kind of town talent show presents modest belly-dancers (with T shirts under their spangles), country-western bands and aspiring soloists—God Bless America.