May 19, 2022

Charlie Doodle

Unique Art & Entertainment

Walleye Festival returns to Freeland

2 min read

FREELAND, Mich. (WNEM) – The Walleye Festival returned to Freeland on Thursday.

The event brings in thousands of people with carnival rides, a car show, and fishing.

One of the biggest attractions to the event this weekend is the community-wide yard sales.

Shoppers walked through neighborhoods in search of the illustrious garage sales. The 36th annual Walleye Festival is hosted by the Freeland Lions Club.

“As the Lions Club, we support a lot of local organizations in the area. So the money that’s raised here this weekend will go to support those local organizations,” said Mike Weadock, Lions Club member.

Organizers said the four-day event will bring about 30,000 people to the area causing traffic on nearly every street.

“I would say for the most part, there’s a few people that leave town because they don’t want to deal with the traffic, but they understand why we’re doing it,” Weadock said.

The group is hoping to raise $50,000 to $70,000 to continue the non-profit’s work in serving the local community through food distributions, free medical exams, and donating to other community programs and projects.

This year’s events will have a little more meaning as it is the first without its founder, Rick Hayes, who died last year due to COVID-19.

“He’s normally out there, vocal big guy. Let’s everybody know, ‘hey, we need to do this here. We need to get rolling on things.’ And it’s just yeah, it’s a lot different not having him. He’s sorely, sorely missed,” said Jason Swartz, Walleye Festival chairman.

Along with the tournament and garage sales, it will have fun for everyone in the family. From a trout pond and rubber duck race for the kids to a poker tournament and beer tent for the adults.

Many residents started looking through garage sales on Thursday.

“We’re looking for all sorts of fun things for babies and kids and dogs,” said Pamela Jeruski, Saginaw resident.

Each year, Freeland residents set up a community-wide yard sale selling everything from furniture to shoes to small appliances.

“Everyone’s on a mission it seems like to find something. So if you’ve been once, you know when you come back, you gotta be on a mission,” said Jackie Sous, Freeland resident.

So many people flood the area that residents have to park on the side of the road and walk into the communities for the sales.

The last day for garage sales is Saturday.

The final weigh in for the walleye tournament will be on Sunday with the award ceremony happening later that day at Hayes Park.

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