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Big tent to return at Brown Trout Festival

News File Photo A group of ladies dance at the Neiman’s Beach Party at the Michigan Brown Trout Festival in this 2019 photo.

ALPENA — The Michigan Brown Trout Festival in Alpena is a go this summer, and the big tent will return after a brief hiatus last year.

The festival board voted Monday to include the tent this year, but a more limited event schedule is planned.

The small tent, which was set up last year, but without bands, will feature some live entertainment this year, Brown Trout Festival President Peggy Donakowski said.

All of the events are subject to change or cancellation, depending on the COVID-19 safety regulations at the time of the event which runs July 15-25.

Donakowski said the big tent is a large part of the festival. The event schedule is reduced, but there are things planned that will please festival goers.

“There won’t be events every day, but depending on the state’s regulations, we could add more leading up to the festival,” she said. “We are working hard to make sure everyone will be safe, but still have a good time.”

Donakowski said PNC Bank is sponsoring the annual family day on July 18, but modifications have been made to the event. Kids who attend should expect to receive school supplies, and other items while there, and fun activities are being planned, Donakowski said.

“They will just walk through and get the supplies and the other things we will have, so it won’t be like previous years,” Donakowski said. “We’ll do our best to make sure it’s as exciting as possible for the kids.”

In years past, the Alpena Fire Department had some of the fire trucks at the harbor for kids to see up close, and there were various arts and crafts projects to do. Donakowski said more details would come closer to the festival.

Another event planned is a dueling piano show made possible by Friends Together and other partners. It is slated for July 17, and the annual Salute to Veterans Day is scheduled for July 21.

One of the events cancelled for this year is the popular Bay Bash, which draws a big crowd. Donakowski, and sponsor True North Radio decided, because of the large crowd, to wait another year to bring the concert and party back.

“There is just no way for us to regulate that size crowd,” she said. “We just don’t know how we can do it safely.”

A car show may be added to the big tent schedule, but Donakowski said details are still being finalized for it.

A pair of new fishing tournaments are on the agenda too. Donakowski said there is a new three-day, high stakes event that will take place.

“It is a winner-take-all for all of the fish categories,” she said.

A new youth fishing tournament called Youth on the Big Water is planned, where up to three kids can fish on a boat, and only one adult who can handle putting lines and lures down.

The festival is still months away, but Donakowski knows people are excited for it.

“A lot of people have been asking and wanting to know what is going on with the festival and big tent,” she said. “Obviously things can change, but right now this gives them something to look forward to.”

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