The 40th annual Main Street Port Clinton Walleye Festival at Waterworks Park was all set to kick off the summer season in Port Clinton. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festive Memorial Weekend event has had to be postponed until 2021.
“The Walleye Festival is the largest fundraiser Main Street Port Clinton holds and is the founding source for our downtown improvement grants, seasonal plantings, holiday activities and more,” said Nicole Kochensparger, head of Main Street Port Clinton and the Port Clinton Chamber of Commerce. “The impact this five-day festival has on our local economy is outstanding, which is what made this decision most difficult.”
An economic impact statement on the Walleye Festival was developed a couple of years ago at Bowling Green State University. It found the Walleye Festival had an economic impact of $38 million for area hotels, restaurants and other businesses, and drew enormous crowds to Waterworks Park for the kids fishing derby, carnival rides, music and a wealth of food trucks from around the area.
“We are disheartened at the thought of summer without this traditional event. We feel that moving forward with the given uncertainty, though, would be a risk to our community, volunteers, vendors and guests,” said Kochensparger.
“We also want to make sure we are able to provide support for our local business community’s needs at this time,”
Kochensparger vowed the Walleye Festival would be back, and better than ever. The new date is May 27-31, 2021.
Main Street Port Clinton is looking into hosting a community-wide event when conditions allow later this year. It would help to reboot local businesses, said Kochensparger, who will provide more details as the program takes shape.
“We have the support of more than 400 business members, and we strongly encourage our many fans, supporters and community members to find ways to continue to support our wonderful organizations and businesses in the months ahead,” she said.