The Grand Haven Salmon Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary September 13-15, 2013 with a weekend full of activities that pay tribute to the area’s bountiful waterways as a natural resource, while coinciding with the region’s annual Salmon migration.
Below, Stefanie Herder of the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau highlights seven can’t miss events happening at this year’s festival. She also shares some festival tips so you can get the most out of your experience at the annual event.
Will you be at the Grand Haven Salmon Festival this weekend? Share with us in the comments section below!
1) Friday Night Fish Boil
The Fish Boil is the kick-off event of the festival and is one of the crowd favorite from kids to Grandmas and Grandpas. The Grand Haven Sons of the American Legion are the chefs for the evening, cooking up their secret recipe of boiled salmon and accompaniments. Think tender, juicy salmon served with boiled potatoes, onions, and corn on the cob all covered in melted butter. Ah-Maze-Ing!
Festival Tip: Get your tickets in advance and arrive early. This is a popular event.
2) Big King Fishing Contest
Before sunrise on Saturday, anglers head out to Lake Michigan in hopes of landing the largest King Salmon of the day with a chance at winning their share of the $2,500 in cash prizes. With local reports of monster salmon in the 25-30lb range, it’s sure to be a BIG year for the tournament.
Festival Tip: Check out the Big King Weigh-In and awards ceremony around 1:30pm at Waterfront Stadium. If you haven’t seen a Lake Michigan salmon up close before, you won’t believe just how big they can get!
This free event on Saturday is chock-full of environmental and educational activities for the kiddos. Here they can have all sorts of fishy-fun by having their face painted, making cute crafts, playing games, and much more. Get up-close and personal with Michigan wildlife, including snakes, turtles, and birds. See live Michigan butterflies inside the Butterfly Tent. Kids can even catch their very own fish at the fishing pond. Again – it’s all free!
Festival Tip: Keep your eyes open for Smokey Bear who will be at this year’s event. It’s a great photo op for the whole family!
4) Salmon Cook-Off & Wine/Beer Tasting
This premiere event takes place Saturday afternoon under a bright white tents along the Grand Haven harbor. Arrive hungry because you have the opportunity to taste specialty salmon dishes from local eateries. Every year we’re amazed with the creativity of the cook-off contestants who have produced dishes including salmon sushi, salmon sliders, salmon brats and even salmon poppers – salmon stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon. Who knows what the chefs will come up with this year, but we can’t wait to try them all! Over 50 Michigan wines and microbrews are available to sip and taste including wines from Chateau Chantel, St. Julian, and Fenn Valley wineries.
Festival Tip: Just like the Fish Boil, this is a popular event. Purchase your tickets in advance to save time and money. Advance ticket holders get to use the Fast Track entrance and skip the line. Kind of like a foodie amusement park.
5) Purple Romp Grape Stomp
Grape stomping. Pretty much everyone has always wanted to try this. The Purple Romp Grape Stomp takes place during the Salmon/Wine Tasting event and is always a blast for participants and spectators. In this bracket style tournament, Romp Stompers face-off to become the Ultimate Grape Stomp champion.
Festival Tip: Get to the Salmon/Wine Tasting event early for a chance to get entered into the competition. Competitors are highly encouraged to come dressed in their best Stomp “uniform.”
6) Fall Harvest Entertainment Tent
Even after a full day of festival fun, there is still plenty to celebrate at the Fall Harvest Entertainment Tent on Saturday evening. Soul’d Out, a local favorite band, will be playing a variety of music including Rock, Jazz, Blues, and Funk. Don’t forget to bring your party pants because you are sure to dance all the way until the stroke of midnight.
Festival Tip: The infamous “King” Salmon and his Royal Court have always made their annual appearance at the Entertainment Tent. This is another fun photo op as you can imagine.
7) Geocaching Event
Sunday afternoon you can search for hidden treasures during the 2nd annual Salmon Festival Geocaching Event. All you need is a GPS or a smart phone with the Geocaching app, the special event cache coordinates, and you’re ready go. Teams of all sizes and ages are welcome to participate and everyone has a chance to win great prizes.
Festival Tip: If you haven’t tried geocaching before, sign-up for a free account at Geocaching.com and practice finding a few caches near you before the event. There are currently over 1,000 caches hidden all around the Grand Haven area.
Fun festival fact: As part of the Salmon Festival’s journey towards sustainability, the event uses all compostable and recycled products. In 2012, the event was able to reduce their total waste by over 50% compared to 2011’s festival. Almost 60% of last year’s total waste was either composted or recycled instead of going to the landfill. We have our goals set even higher for this year!
We hope you are able to be our guests at the 10th Anniversary of the Grand Haven Salmon Festival!
Stefanie Herder is the Customer Service Coordinator for the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau – The Grand Haven CVB has planned the Grand Haven Salmon Festival for the past 9 years. Stefanie was born and raised in the Grand Haven area and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management. Stefanie and her husband, Josh, enjoy taking full advantage of four seasons of fun Pure Michigan has to offer including golf, kayaking, camping, snowboarding, and yes – fishing & wine tasting.