EAST TAWAS – Every year as the month of February approaches, community members and non-residents alike excitedly await the Perchville USA winter festival. With the cancellation of the event last year because of COVID-19, the anticipation in the air is even stronger this time around. Participants are anxious to get back to some of their favorite festival traditions during Perchville 2022, and to also enjoy some of the new entertainment being offered.
Organized by the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC), the 72nd annual occasion will begin tomorrow (Thursday), and go on through Sunday, Feb. 6.
There was also some pre-festival fun to be had on Jan. 29, during the Perchville Coronation Breakfast, where this year’s festival royalty received their crowns (see separate story).
As for the upcoming activities, these are summarized below and, unless noted otherwise, will all take place in East Tawas. While much of the entertainment is free of charge, a $5 Perchville button is required for entry to some of the events. These can be purchased at a number of local establishments, as well as the TACC office.
Additional resources – including registration forms, maps and complete lists of rules for the various events/contests – can be found at either www.tawas.com, or www.facebook.com/PerchvilleUSA. They can be picked up in person, as well, from the TACC office at 228 Newman St. in East Tawas. Chamber staff/volunteers may also be reached at 362-8643, or by e-mail at [email protected].
Organizers note that all events are tentative and subject to change.
Getting things in gear for the first official festival day of Perchville 2022, is the Royal Feast. Set from 5-8 p.m. this Thursday, it will be hosted in Rushman Hall, at 821 Newman St.
The $20 ticket for entry can be purchased in advance from the TACC building, and organizers point out that seating is limited. A Perchville button also has to be presented in order to attend. Doors will open at 5 p.m., with the meal to be served at 6 p.m.
The Royal Feast will include entertainment, a cash bar and a buffet style dinner with a vegetable, potato, dessert and your choice of perch or baked chicken.
Designed to acknowledge past and present festival royalty, this event will also feature an introduction to the 2022 Perchville King and Queen, Bill and Karen Stoll, and the Junior Perchville King and Queen, Carson Selman and Eliza Primm.
Additionally, those joining the meal will have a chance to vote on their favorite entrants in the “Paint a Perch” contest, which has been reintroduced for 2022.
TACC Executive Director Samantha Duvall shared that she is very happy with the contest turnout, and really impressed with how well everyone did.
Coronation Breakfast attendees could also cast votes for the Paint a Perch Contest and, once everything is tallied up, Duvall says that prizes will be awarded to the winners in each age group.
Participants of the Perchville USA Fishing Tournament will be able to drop their lines in the water starting at 6 a.m. on Friday.
Duvall says there is no pre-registration, as this will occur once anglers bring their fish to one of the two weigh-in stations.
The tournament is free for both adults and children, with only a Perchville button needed for adults to enter a fish.
First through third place prizes will be awarded in two divisions – adult, and youth age 16 and under – for the longest perch, walleye, pike and bluegill/sunfish, which must be caught within Iosco County.
The fish may be registered in the official fishing tournament station, at the entrance to the East Tawas State Dock, from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday. A weigh-in will be available in the hospitality tent at the adjacent Harbor Park, as well, from 10 a.m. until noon on Sunday. (Information on the awards ceremony appears under Sunday’s itinerary in this story).
Also scheduled this Friday, from 4-7 p.m., is a perch dinner fish fry at Rushman Hall on Newman Street.
The Perchville Hospitality Tent will be available to festival goers age 21 and older, and will be open from 5-9 p.m. on Friday. The heated tent will be set up in the parking lot of Harbor Park, near the Newman Street and US-23 intersection, next to the State Dock.
The entrance fee is a festival button, and attendees must also present a photo I.D. Tickets for the adult beverages are $4 apiece, cash only, which can be purchased once inside the tent.
DJ services will be provided by Shaw Entertainment, and the Friday night hospitality tent fun will also include a cornhole tournament. Check-in for the contest, hosted by Third Coast Cornhole, is at 4:30 p.m., with the tournament to get underway at 5 p.m. Late check-in will be allowed up until completion of the first round of qualifying.
The cost is $40 per team, and players must pre-register electronically through the Scoreholio app. Payment is to be made at the event site, during check-in. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/events/946242802981152.
For the younger crowd, Tawas Ravens Youth Football and Cheerleading will host a Pre-Teen Dance, for fourth through sixth grade students. Admission is $3 and the dance will go on from 7-9 p.m. in the cafeteria of Tawas Area High School, located at 255 W. M-55 in Tawas City.
For the safety and convenience of guests, free shuttle services will be offered from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Participants may park at one of nine different locations, and then ride the Iosco Transit bus to the various Perchville activities. The East Tawas stops will be at Harbor Park, the corner of Newman and State streets, the East Tawas Community Center, Dewey Durant Park and by the pavilion of the East Tawas City Park; while the shuttle stops in Tawas City will be Brugger’s Plaza, Bay Inn, Gateway Park and Tawas City Shoreline Park.
The first event slated for Saturday is the annual Perchville Parade, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. from the Tawas City Fire Department on Mathews Street. The procession will travel along US-23, into East Tawas, and conclude on Newman Street.
Another Perchville USA tradition, the “Chilly” Cook-Off, will commence at 11 a.m. Hosted by the East Tawas Business Association, the cook-off is entering its 27th year. Taste testers will be able to sample batches from 22 participating businesses along Newman Street, and then vote for their favorite.
The cost is an $8 souvenir coozie, which can be purchased in advance from the TACC office, the Brew Krew or the Village Chocolatier. Coozies will also be sold the day of the event, inside the Family Theatre.
Perchville wouldn’t be complete without a Polar Bear Plunge, and two such events have been set for Feb. 5 – the first starting at 1:30 p.m., and the second at 3:30 p.m.
Registration will be at 11 a.m. at the entrance of the East Tawas State Dock, near the end of Newman Street, which is also where the events will be held.
Those who choose to take the daring dip through a hole cut into the frozen surface of Lake Huron, will walk away with both bragging rights and a keepsake T-shirt.
The fee is $20, and participants must be at least 16 years old to take the Polar Bear Plunge. Entrants under 18 must have a parent’s signed consent form.
For a complete list of rules, and/or to print off an entry form ahead of time, visit the aforementioned TACC website or Facebook page.
Also making a return to Perchville USA in 2022, is the Frozen Chosen shooting event. Hosted at the Iosco Sportsmen’s Club, at 1600 S. US-23, the 100-yard military style shooting contest will start at 11 a.m.
Proceeds from the $10 entry fee for the event – in which shooters will use a vintage, or any other style rifle – will benefit local veterans.
A couple other Perchville activities will kick off at 11 a.m., as well, including the open pits and registration for the ATV Barrel Races at Dewey Durant Park. The races will start at 1 p.m. and go on until dark.
For contestants, there is a $10 entry fee for all categories, with the money going directly in purse for 100 percent payout.
The park is located at 712 W. Franklin St., and those under 18 must have a parent/guardian signature in order to compete.
The Family Expo will also begin welcoming guests at 11 a.m. From then until 4 p.m., they will be treated to entertainment including games, a magician, a juggler, a K-9 demonstration, hourly prize drawings, face painting, a dog race demo and a music selection from Disney’s “Frozen Jr.,” presented by WE Players Inc.
Duvall points out that even more items have been added to the lineup, since the initial flyer went out about the Family Expo.
Admission is free for the whole family, and food will be available for purchase from the Tawas Masonic Lodge. The expo will be held in the East Tawas Community Center, at 760 Newman St.
As a reminder, the first opportunity to register a catch in the fishing tournament will be from noon to 6 p.m., at the weigh-in station at the entrance to the State Dock.
Also planned from noon to 6 p.m., is a new event to Perchville which will be held on Bay Street, in front of Branham’s Jewelry.
A warming station will be set up, with members of the East Tawas Fire and East Tawas Police departments on hand as visitors warm up with fire pits and enjoy free s’mores and hot chocolate.
Picnic tables will be stationed at the site, and those from Route 23 BBQ will have a food truck available, as well.
From noon to 8 p.m., the hospitality tent in Harbor Park will reopen and feature live music for the duration. The band FLiPSiDE will hit the stage for the first half, with No Baloney performing from 4-8 p.m. The tent is open to attendees 21 and older, who present their Perchville button and photo I.D. The drink tickets can be purchased inside for $4 each, cash only.
An off-site offering is also being promoted in conjunction with Perchville, and the guided snowshoe tour of the Lake Huron Coastal Preserve has been set from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Participants are to meet at the Dyer Road Trail Head in Alabaster Township, located on the corner of US-23 and Dyer Road. They are asked to bring their own snowshoes, water and snacks, and to be dressed for the weather. Snowshoes may not be needed, though, depending on snow depth.
The event will include a brief welcome and introduction to the preserve by Land Protection Director Heather Huffstutler, of Huron Pines, along with representatives of the Alabaster Township Parks and Recreation Committee.
The committee members will join the hike at the Lake Huron Coastal Preserve to help with the tour and answer any questions about the transfer of ownership of the property from Huron Pines to the township.
This is the second of three snowshoe hikes in the series arranged by the nonprofit Huron Pines. The first was held recently at Emily Min Hunt Preserve, while the third installment will be at the Hubbard Lake Preserve on Saturday, Feb. 12.
The Perchville Fishing Tournament will be the focus of the festival finale day, and the last weigh-in for the contest will occur in the hospitality tent of Harbor Park, from 10 a.m. to noon.
The tent is also where the tournament awards ceremony will be held, starting at 12:15 p.m. Anglers must be present to win and collect any awards/prizes.
A lunch will be provided to all participants, as well, during the ceremony.
(More details on the three-day fishing event are shared under the “Friday, Feb. 4” section of this story, and a full list of rules can be found on the previously noted TACC website and Facebook page).
Duvall said that for Perchville USA 2022, TACC sought to add more family-friendly events, while also concentrating as many of the activities as possible in the same, general downtown area.
She notes that the chamber has received a lot of phone calls about the Chilly Cook-Off, so people have been getting excited for that, as well as for the return of the hospitality tent.
Duvall also shared that TACC has received tremendous community support while preparing for the 72nd rendition of Perchville, from those who have helped organize the event – including Jerry Malone – and the numerous festival sponsors.