PORT CLINTON, Ohio — It's one of the bigger festivals in northwest Ohio, but it won't take place this year. The 40th anniversary of the Walleye Festival in Port Clinton was scheduled to happen this year.
But due to continued coronavirus social distancing mandates, organizers made the difficult decision to cancel.
The event averages 26,000 visitors a year over the four-day festival and injects an estimated 3.8 million dollars a year to the Port Clinton economy, but more importantly, it is the primary revenue stream for the Main Street Port Clinton nonprofit.
This means the many landscaping projects, events, or fundraising initiatives will be greatly impacted.
"Every year we give downtown improvement grants to building and business owners within our Main Street district. Since 2013, we've given away $120,000, so that's where that money comes from," Port Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce President Nicole Kochensparger said.
Taking into consideration the complexity of planing a large scale festival, organizers say it is impossible to reschedule for later this year.
In the meantime, multiple fundraising streams were launched to supply some funding for Main Street Port Clinton, including the Meals on Madison program, which shuts down Madison Street for downtown restaurants to have access to outdoor eating locations for patrons.
"It's my goal to see us through this, and to celebrate 40 years of the Walleye Festival in 2021," Kochensparger said.
Another step the nonprofit is taking to raise funds and make up for losing the festival's funds is selling masks online. There are only about 400 left.