BLACK LAKE - A group dedicated to protecting Black Lake's sturgeon is looking to revive a celebration that once drew hundreds of people.
The Black Lake Sturgeon Shivaree starts Friday and continues through Saturday as a "soft launch" of sorts, Sturgeon For Tomorrow's Black Lake Chapter President Brenda Archambo said. She and other organizers hope this year's is a small step to revitalizing the event. Proceeds will fund the sturgeon hatchery, research, habitat restoration and outreach programs, according to the event website.
"It's a gathering place to talk sturgeon," Archambo said. "Our emphasis is to keep the event centered around the sturgeon, and the work that's being done to rehabilitate the sturgeon that affords us the opportunity to have a fishery."
The event kicks off Friday, when fishers can register for the sturgeon season at the Department of Natural Resources on M-211 from 2-8 p.m., Archambo said. Some time after sundown, Jimmie Mitchell, Little River Band of Odawa Indians Director of Natural Resources, will lead a candle-lit drum ceremony to mark the opening of the lake sturgeon season, Archambo said.
"He'll explain to us what sturgeon means to the tribes, and explain to us why they do what they're doing," she said.
Along with the rest of the Shivaree events, the ceremony will take place on the ice near where Zolner Road, on Black Lake's northwestern shore, Archambo said.
For entertainment, there will be live music in the entertainment tent Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m., Archambo said. The North Star Figure Skating Club will put on a laser light figure skating exhibition at 6:30 p.m. Saturday if organizers can get an ice rink set up. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Natureology owner Maureen Stein will have games for kids.
The Shivaree dates back to 1961 as a wintertime ice carnival, complete with fishing contests, snowmobile races and a Sturgeon King and Queen competition, Archambo said. It once drew hundreds of people to the area and its businesses. This year's reboot is set to include a few of the traditional events along with some new ones.
Among the latter is a competition of sorts called the Poker Run. Those who register by 11 a.m. Saturday get five chips to be redeemed at participating businesses in Cheboygan, Indian River, Onaway and Topinabee, according to game rules. Players can buy up to three additional cards, and the best hand wins four-fifths of the pot.
This game highlights one of the reasons Sturgeon for Tomorrow wants to bring the Shivaree back to its former glory, Archambo said.
"It's about the sturgeon, but it's also really to help the businesses, the restaurants and hotels, and the retail businesses," she said. "It's to bring people to the area in the winter time and to showcase northern Michigan in the winter time."
In a nod to the Shivaree's past, the Black Lake Association is sponsoring a fishing contest, where the heaviest registered sturgeon, as well as the heaviest northern pike, perch, muskellunge and walleye wins the prize, Archambo said. The registration deadline is 10 a.m. Saturday, and winners will be announced starting at 7:30 p.m. that day. Anyone with questions should call the association at 619-9146.
The Shivaree is sponsored by numerous local businesses and individuals, and Sturgeon for Tomorrow is looking for more, Archambo said. Volunteers are needed as well. Anyone interested can contact her at 231-625-2776.
More information on the Shivaree can be found at www.sturgeonfortomorrow.org/shivaree.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5688.