PORT CLINTON, Ohio — COVID forced the cancelation of the Walleye Festival in Port Clinton for 2020.
Then last year, the event was all but flooded out.
This year, the Walleye Festival is in full swing for five days of fun along the Lake Erie shore.
It's the official kickoff to summer in Port Clinton.
For the 41st year, visitors will enjoy local vendors, food trucks, rides and of course some fresh Walleye at Waterworks Park over Memorial Day Weekend.
The festival is back in full for the first time since 2018, raising funds for the non-profit Main Street Port Clinton.
"This fundraiser funds everything we do for the entire year: our downtown improvement grants, our flowers in the flower pots each year; all of the free activities we offer for families all summer long, our summer concert series," Nicole Kochensparger, President of Main Street Port Clinton, said. "It's super important that this festival happens."
The festival averages about 26,000 visitors a day, so organizers decided to start the festivities a day earlier by kicking off Thursday evening.
"We have not had a park this full probably since 2018. So, we have got close to 100 vendors, very large in space. We've filled more of this park than we have in a long time. We've got lots of new food vendors this year," Kochensparger said.
And though the event is an Ottawa County tradition, locals would love to see people from across the 419 visit the area and experience all this lakeside community has to offer.
"The beaches, the lighthouse. There is just so much to see and do right here in the Port Clinton area, all walking distance of where we're standing right now," Port Clinton Mayor Mike Snider said.
Along with the Walleye Festival running from today through Memorial Day, this weekend is also the kickoff for the third year of Meals on Madison, with outdoor seating within the Port Clinton DORA and live music all summer long.