Fish festival returns returns to Alden

·2 min read

Jun. 11—ALDEN — The Torch Lake Whitefish Festival returns from June 11-12 at Depot Park.

Blue Ribbon Events, LLC CEO Danielle Lynch said the event grows each year. Her event planning company presents its third annual festival this year, with last year's attendance reaching around 10,000 people.

The main highlight, Lynch said, is the fish — all caught in state waters. She spent about $80 on fish last year, including on smoked varieties and pate.

"We're in Michigan, so whitefish is a staple," she said. "They'll have fresh and frozen so people can take both. It pretty much sold out by the end of Saturday."

Mega Sodini, her husband and their five children run their fish vendor business Mi Great Lakes Fish Co. She said they are excited to bring fresh fish to the festival, something many people do not always have access to.

"We catch seasonal fish," Sodini said. "The walleye season is ending, so we will have some frozen walleye."

They sell products from Massey Fish Company in St. Ignace. Many of these are available at the whitefish festival, including smelt, lake trout and, of course, whitefish.

Sodini said smelt is her favorite because it is connected to a childhood memory. She helped her family catch, clean and cook buckets of smelt in the Upper Peninsula.

Their fish patties, Sodini said, are "a hit at our markets." These come in salmon and Laker (made with lake trout) varieties and are like a fish burger.

"All of our fish is wild caught — nothing is farm raised," she added. "It's a blessing that we live in a state surrounded by water with access to fresh fish."

Other vendors include the Great Bread Company, Timbo's Licorice Ropes, Twisted Craft Cocktails (small batch cocktail mixes in mason jars) and the French Barkery (handmade, human-grade dog treats). Lynch said most of their vendors are from Michigan, with only a handful from out of state.

The Torch Lake Whitefish Festival goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 11 and 12 at the Alden Depot Park and Museum. Events occur outdoors, but the museum building is open for public tours that weekend.

Lynch said she comes from an art background. Many of her friends had no work during the initial COVID-19 shutdowns, so she started the Torch Lake Whitefish Festival with a fine arts and crafts show. This year, more than 30 creators sell their items.