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Brown trout festival planning goes on, despite position vacancies

October 22, 2009
Steve Schulwitz

Although it is missing people in key positions, planning for the Michigan Brown Trout Festival continues.

The festival committee met Thursday to discuss the future of the tournament and its other attractions. The committee is in the process of trying to fill four major executive positions. The tournament committee needs to fill the positions of president, vice president of grounds, secretary and treasurer.

Current Secretary Beth Pelkey opened the meeting and updated those in attendance on some of the details of what is developing and what is happening to the festival.

"The festival has become its own entity. It has a life of its own," Pelkey said. "You have the festival side with the tent and the entertainment and the fishing side with the tournament. I don't think one can exist without the other. I have spoken with ... others and they have all said, 'we won't let this die.'"

Tournament director Doug Niergarth said there are volunteers for the fishing portion of the festival. Working on the other aspects of the festival is where the committee needs help. He said he believes the biggest factor is a drop in volunteers.

As the number of boats that enter the tournament dwindles recruiting new fishers have become a top priority of the committee. Niergarth walked those in attendance through each rule of each tournament, asking for comments and suggestions.

One key change being discussed is allowing boats to launch out of Rockport instead of the harbor in Alpena. Niergarth said many of the fishers are fishing and having success there and he hopes it might attract participants from towns like Posen, Rogers City and Cheboygan who wouldn't have to make the trip all the way to Alpena when they would want to fish at Rockport or further north.

Weigh in still would be in Alpena and a way to transport the fish from one spot to the other without the threat of manipulation is going to be discussed at a future rules meeting.

"The Rockport rule would be a big one," Niergarth said. "Historically there have been directors who have said this is an Alpena tournament and launching anywhere besides Alpena was a show stopper. If we can fill these positions maybe we can change that."

The committee is going to schedule another meeting for a November date and hopes to have some of the questions answered then.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.



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