“It is a night you definitely shouldn’t miss,” said Mark Matousek, vice chairman of the walleye planning committee.
For the past 16 years, thousands have flocked to Port Clinton to see the 20-foot, 600-pound fish, “Wylie the Walleye”, fall at the strike of midnight, bringing in the New Year. This year you should come and join the fun. We at Funcoast got the inside scoop on all the special events this night holds.
Want to go?
WHAT: Walleye Madness New Year event
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday, December 31
WHERE: Madison Street and various locations, Downtown Port Clinton
But first, a little bit of history. This local tradition started in December of 1996 when Dan Sedlak presented his idea of the fish drop to the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau and the Port Clinton Chamber of Commerce. With the help of Sedlak's brothers, John Fellhauer and Fellhauer’s dad, the drop became a reality. That year the paper mache walleye weighed in at only 120 pounds.
Today the event is not just for adults, Walleye Madness is for all ages to enjoy. “We gear the event toward family fun to bring in the New Year together. Everything from the entertainment to the food, is geared for everyone to have fun,” Matousek said.
For the kids there will be local games put on by Port Clinton High School’s Key Club happening at the Knights of Columbus building, located on Perry Street. Live, musical entertainment by the Wanna Bees will take place beginning at 4 p.m. with the kid’s walleye drop to follow at 6 p.m.
One of the favorite and beloved events, Touch-A-Truck, will return once again to the streets of Port Clinton on New Years Eve. “Kids will have the opportunity to talk to professionals and sit behind the wheel in vehicles like police cars, tractors, bulldozers and fire trucks. This event is really popular,” said Matousek.
14 vendors will be stationed both inside and outside, including food vendors with all your festival food favorites such as funnel cake and elephant ears, as well as some unique walleye flavored foods.
“Each year Great Lakes Popcorn presents Wild Walleye flavored popcorn that you must try,” said Matousek.
On the grand stage, located at the end of Madison Street, professional DJ service, Rock and Roll Express, will be giving away glow sticks, T-shirts and other goodies from 6 p.m. until midnight. So grab your dancing shoes, because dancing in the street is extremely encouraged.
For the adults, most of the local bars and restaurants will also be hosting live entertainment along with food and drink specials throughout the night.
After the drop of Wylie the Walleye, happening on Madison Street, the night sky is lit up in a magical fireworks display. “The firework light show occurs right after Wylie is dropped, and is absolutely beautiful,” said Matousek.
For more information, including a full event itinerary, check out www.walleyemadness.com. This website is full of walleye information including a video and pictures from last year’s drop.