Port Clinton Lighthouse Festival highlights city’s rich maritime history

Aug 30, 2023 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Alayna Walton, 8, of Sandusky, fishes on Derby Pond during the Port Clinton Lighthouse Festival. The kids fishing event was offered by Fishing’s Future. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)


Hundreds of people visited Waterworks Park on Saturday, Aug. 19 to celebrate the town’s nautical heritage at the 5th annual Port Clinton Lighthouse and Maritime Festival. The event featured 25 vendors selling nautical merchandise, 15 antique and wooden classic boats, a plein air art show, historic talks and live entertainment.

The festival was hosted by the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy (PCLC), which offered free tours of the 1896 lighthouse.

New to the Lighthouse Festival this year was an archery booth hosted by Cub Scout Pack 361. Cubmaster Phil Rauscher and Assistant Cubmaster David Barth taught children and adults how to shoot bows using arrows with foam, blunt points.

Phil Rauscher, a cubmaster with Cub Scout Pack 361, helps four-year-old Evie Cultice of Put-in-Bay shoot a bow while Skyler Stoiber, 6, also of Put-in-Bay, watches. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Also new was a kids fishing booth hosted by Fishing’s Future, a national organization with a mission to connect kids with nature and their families. Michael Wilson and Jeff Hild recently launched a Fishing’s Future chapter in Port Clinton, and they brought fishing gear to the Lighthouse Festival so kids could fish for free.

Among the kids fishing was ten-year-old Kaitlyn Swanson of Port Clinton, an experienced angler who was enjoying casting for fish in Derby Pond.

“I usually fish on land or on our pontoon boat,” she said. “I like catching fish because we make smoked catfish, and we catch bass and crappie, and we cook them and make some of them spicy.”

PCLC President Rich Norgard was grateful Fishing’s Future attended the festival.

Visitors enjoy a free tour of the Port Clinton Lighthouse. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“I was trying to get something here for the kids, so I’m glad they came,” Norgard said.

Another new addition to the festival was a flea market held in conjunction with the boat show.

“This year, in addition to the boats, we have a nautical flea market. It seems to be going really well because my pocket is getting full,” said boat show organizer, Bill Moon.

Norgard said the Lighthouse Festival helps highlight Port Clinton’s rich heritage.

“The Lighthouse is part of Port Clinton history. One thing all lake ports have in common is a lighthouse,” he said. “Our lighthouse shows that we are an important community fishing port.”

Richard Norgard, president of the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy, said the Lighthouse Festival helps highlight the area’s rich nautical heritage. (Photos by Sheri Trusty) (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

During an opening ceremony, Mayor Mike Snider honored longtime PCLC member and former Port Clinton School psychologist, Dr. Alex Thomas, who died on Aug. 7.

“Mayor Snider did a nice presentation, and it was nice that he asked for a moment of silence for Dr. Alex Thomas,” said festival volunteer, Jane Held.

The PCLC hosted raffles to raise funds for next year’s festival. Longtime Port Clinton teacher, Rita McNutt, was one of the many people who bought tickets to support the conservancy.

“I took my class to the Marblehead Lighthouse for 18 years because lighthouses are important for our history. I love lighthouses, so I support this,” McNutt said. “The conservancy group is a labor of love that is appreciated and supported by the community.”

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