2017-07-20 / Front Page

Fish Feast Is Sat.

By Debra Petkus

Saturday, July 22, will be filled with three community events surrounding Fish Feast, a celebration of the fishing heritage of the area. The taste of St. Ignace restaurants, live entertainment, and fun for children will be preceded by two foot races and the annual memorial service for commercial fishermen who perished in the water.

The morning begins with a one-mile fun run beginning at 9 a.m. at the American Legion Park and, after the racers return, a 5K walk/run. Sponsored by St. Ignace running club, Run St. Ignace, proceeds will benefit the LaSalle cross country team in purchasing new uniforms.

The pre-registration fee to enter the walk is $15, and the 5K entry fee $25. All pre-registered participants will receive a T-shirt and a race gift. Registration begins at 7 a.m., and those who register the day of the race will pay an additional $5. Contact Mary Cullen at (906) 298-0398 for registration questions.

The race divisions for both male and female are: age 9 and under, 10- 15, 16-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50- 59, 60-69, and 70+.

The memorial service will take place at the Fisherman’s Memorial on the boardwalk in front of the marina at 3:45 p.m. Darryl Brown will lead the ceremony.

“It’s a simple acknowledgement and a prayer,” he said.

Everyone is invited to participate in this solemn time of remembering commercial fishermen who have lost their lives. The memorial lists 25 area fishermen who died in a fishing related incident from 1851 to 1999, but more have been discovered since the memorial was installed, Mr. Brown said.

“The memorial is a great idea,” he said. “The community was an incredible fishing village at one time.”

As a Native American, he said it’s an honor to lead the acknowledgement of those who played an important part in the community. Quite a number of those who lost their lives had Native American ancestry, he noted.

Fish Feast opens at 4 p.m. at the St. Ignace Marina. The annual picnic will feature locally sourced fish alongside other cuisine, provided by area restaurants.

The cost to enter the event is $5 for an adult age 21 and older. Those 20 and yonger can enter free. Food and drinks can be purchased inside at an additional cost.

Health regulations do not permit pets inside the gate.

The atmosphere will be lively, with music and food and activities for children.

Among the restaurants to be represented at Fish Feast this year are Fred’s Pub, which will offer baskets of whitefish, perch, or walleye fingers with a serving of fries, or a combo basket with all three fish.

Co-owner Wanda Paquin said hot dogs will also be available for children.

For her, the best part of Fish Feast is the gathering of friends, new and old, local and visitor. Class reunions and family get-togethers are common.

“It’s a nice gathering of people who love to get together,” she said.

Horseshoe Bay Restaurant at Kewadin Shores Casino will offer shrimp cocktail. Food operations manager Jennifer Murphy said last year’s whitefish was very popular, and she still has people coming in the restaurant to order it. There were no shrimp offerings in the past, however, so she wanted to bring jumbo shrimp this year.

“Last year was the first year I worked it,” she said of Fish Feast. “It was fun and busy.” Her booth will also serve Mackinac Island fudge ice cream.

Mackinac Grille will be serving deep fried whitefish and walleye with sweet potato fries and regular fries. Owner Mark Sposito has participated since the beginning when his restaurant was the only vendor, and he has enjoyed seeing it grow.

“It’s absolutely a local and tourist event,” he said. “It’s an ideal setting.”

If the weather cooperates, the games, music, and food, plus the fireworks after dark, make for a fun time.

A beverage tent will be selling beer, wine, and soft drinks.

Bentley’s B-M-L Diner owner Brenda Spencley said she will have desserts of pies and strawberry shortcake at the Fish Feast again this year. It may be a hard choice to pick from the many choices of pie, including strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, apple, peach raspberry, apple with brown sugar topping, rhubarb, cherry, maple oatmeal, and chocolate pecan.

Additional food booths may be joining in.

A returning activity booth is the fish print. Adults and children can buy a T-shirt on site, then decorate it by painting the body of a fish and pressing it onto the shirt. The project, called “Gyotaku,” is a Japanese art form. Funds from the sales will allow local early childhood providers to attend professional development classes at no cost.

Deb Dupras, executive director for Great Start to Quality, U.P. Resource Center, has selected a good location for the event. She is not sure what types of fish will be available, but she anticipates three or four to choose from.

Always a favorite, the trout fishing pond, sponsored by the Straits Area Sportsmen’s Club, will give children the chance to catch a real live fish and return it or take it home to cook. The water will be supplied by the St. Ignace Fire Department.

Another favorite activity is the dunking tank. A bounce house, basketball toss, washer toss, dart toss and baseball throw, and face painting will keep youngsters busy.

Tickets and wristbands can be purchased for the games outside the Fish Feast eating area.

The Pub Runners, an Irish folk band from Gaylord which is in demand at Irish festivals throughout the Great Lakes basin, and CeeCee and the Motown Trio from Detroit will provide live music, while St. Ignace disc jockey duo Neil and Julie Hill of SoundWave Music from St. Ignace will provide music before and after the performances.

Fireworks at dusk over Moran Bay will be a colorful ending to the evening.

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