2015 Bay Port’s Fish Sandwich Festival – The Big Party before Cheeseburger in Caseville

Bay Port, Michigan – As late summer rolls around the days get a bit shorter and the evenings around the campfire can have a bit of chill in the air. It’s also festival season! If you’re in the Upper Thumb the first weekend in August, head to Bay Port. The Bay Port Fish Sandwich Festival is the granddaddy of them all. Since 1978 folks come in and lined up for a fish sandwich that “takes two hands to hold one.” At $4.00 it’s a deal. It’s a family friendly Bay Port Craft Showevent but its proximity to the historic Bay Port Inn make thoughts of having a “short one” prior to hitting the craft booths not uncommon.

Events start on Friday July 31st at noon with sandwiches and a large continuous craft show, the crowning of the festival’s king, queen, prince and princess and fireworks on Friday evening at dusk.  The festival’s parade kicks off Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m.

A Bite of Fish Sandwich History

The Engelhard’s family started the community’s Fish Sandwich Festival. In 1949 Henry and Edna began selling the famous fish sandwich. By 1953, the Engelhard’s erected a stand on the front lawn of their home, with a sign that touted Bay Port’s Original Fresh Boneless Fried Fish Sandwich.

Bay Port Fish SandwichThe first Fish Sandwich Festival was held in 1978, and just like Caseville’s 1st Rib stock held years later, they quickly sold out. Today the annual number of visitors averages over 10,000. Back in the late 1940’s folks told them they were crazy, but the Bay Port fishery certainly captivated them and, after all, the Bay Port slogan is “Fish caught the Man.”

The fish sandwich is the prime attraction. Local caught fresh water Mullet  is dipped in a secret batter, fried crisp, and served on a long bun with ketchup and mustard. Although not traditional, tartar sauce is also available. According to Henry, the fish should overlap the bun and the sandwich should be so large “it takes two hands to hold it.” All day, the lines in front of the sandwich stand are long. It is not unusual to sell 12,500 sandwiches to people from as far away as Florida and the northeast.

Henry was the festival’s primary inspiration, energy, supporter, and promoter. He wrote many stories regaling the fish sandwiches’ power to please and to heal. Through his efforts, the festival has been featured on NBCs Today Show, ABCs 20/20, and in many national magazines and newspapers. In recognition of their contribution to the Fish Sandwich Festival, Henry and Edna (she died in 1992) were honored as “Mr. and Mrs. Bay Port.”

Vintage Camping Rolls Into Thumb

Over members of the vintage camper group Tin Can Tourists will stretch out at the Port Crescent Campground starting July 30th. The group first formed in 1919 in Tampa Florida. The group is composed of over 1000 with members all of the United States, Canada and Japan. The rally held at Port Crescent showed some of the best restored motor coaches and travel trailers. More information about Tin Can Tourists can be found on their website.

Below is a sample of the trailers at Port Crescent State Park taken in 2012.

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Throwback Thursday: Huron’s Drive-In Theaters

It’s widely recognized that the first drive in was Hollingshead’s drive-in opened in New Jersey June 6, 1933. It offered viewing for up to 400 vehicles and a 40 by 50 foot screen. The owner advertised his drive-in theater with the slogan, “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are.” The facility only operated three years, but during that time the concept caught on in other states.BSD Speaker Poles

The drive-in’s peak popularity came in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly in rural areas, with some 4,000 drive-ins spread across the UnitBlue Sky Drive In Caseville Michiganed States. Huron County is recorded in having two drive-in’s, the Blue Sky between Caseville and Pinnebog and the M-53 near Bad Axe.

The Blue Sky operated from 1950 – 1977. Surrounded by farmland it offered summer nighttime movies for 300. Faced with decline in attendance the drive in showed “blue films” in the 1970’s. Remains of this theater were evident until about 201m530 when land owners removed the last of the speaker stands and cement footings.

M-53 opened in 1953 and ran until 1988. Located just west of town, its 400 spaces drew folks from all over the county.

Snack BarToday there are no drive-ins in the Upper Thumb. The nearest one is the Hi-Way Drive In in Sandusky. The Hi-Way is considered the oldest continuous running drive-in in Michigan.

Midway Fun at the Huron Community Fair

The highlight festival time in the Thumb kicks off this year at the  146th Huron Community Fair, running Sunday through Saturday, July 26 – August 1!HCF Logo

The fair opens Sunday, July 26, with free parking. Check out the 2 p.m. grandstand event featuring Indian Trails Rodeo, and the 4-H Horse Show begins at 5 p.m. The Huron County FairOpening Ceremony and Flag Raising is open to all at the center of the Livestock Arena at 6:30 p.m., followed by livestock judging at the Swine Barn Arena at 7 p.m.

Starting Monday, July 27, at 8 a.m. The 4-H Horse Show begins at 9 a.m., and the 4-H and FFA Building and Merchant Building will be open from 11 Huron County Faira.m. – 10 p.m. The Sheep Show begins at 1 p.m., and the Midway will be open Monday, beginning at 5 p.m. The Elkton Lions Bingo runs from 4 – 10:30 p.m., and stop by the Arena to see the 4-H Talent Show, the 4-H Ambassador Court Program and the Huron County Bean Queen at 6 p.m.  The  Combine Demolition Derby Grandstand Main Event at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 28, offers the Rabbit Show, Swine Show, HorseHuron County Fair Show, Dairy Show, and the judging in the 4-H Building for food, flowers, vegetables, and crops. Beginning at 11 a.m., visitors can tour the 4-H and FFA Building, the Merchant Building and the 4-H Small Animal Building. The Miracle of Life Pavilion and various afternoon performances of the Lumberjack Show can seen all week long

Tuesday is Kids Day with the Midway opening at 1 p.m. with a reduced ride bracelet rate.  Draft Horse Pull at 6 p.m. at the Arena.

WednesHuron County Fairday, July 29, include the 4-H and FFA Prospect Feeder Show at 9 a.m., the Horse Show and the Poultry Show. The Midway opens at 3 p.m.,  Wednesday’s Grandstand event will be the TTPA Pick-up Pull at 7 p.m., and  free entertainment by Broken Arrow Band from 7 – 10 p.m.

Thursday, July 30, features the Special NeedHuron County Fairs Kids Event, the Market Beef Show, the Goat Show,  Country music entertainer DeWayne Spaw will start as at 7 p.m., and Grandstand Event begins at 7:30 p.m., for the  Super Kicker Rodeo and Barrel Racing!

Friday, July 31, the Jr. Livestock Auction Sale begins at 9 a.m., and the Dog and Cat Show begins at 10 a.m. The Midway opens at 3 p.m.; Draft HoHuron County Fairrse Cart Classes begin at 6 p.m.; and the Small Livestock Sweepstakes Huron County FairContest begins at 7 p.m. Friday’s Grandstand Event, which will be the West Michigan Mud Runners at 7 p.m.

The final full day of the fair is Saturday, August 1, with the Small Livestock Association Sale and 4-H Auction beginning at 9 aHuron County Fair.m. The Antique Tractor Show and Hit-n-Miss EngineHuron County Fairs Show runs from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; on Saturday, the Midway opens at noon a The Jr. Livestock Sweepstakes Contest takes place at 2 p.m., the Draft Horse Hitch Classes. Saturday night’s Grandstand Event is the TTPA Tractor Pull Smoker Class at 6 p.m.

Compiled from sources including the Lakeshore Guardian and Bax Axe Chamber of Commerce.


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