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Labor of love: Marina Fest vendors showcase the character of Sister Bay

Marina Fest unites families, tourists in Sister Bay
Posted at 6:05 PM, Sep 03, 2023
  • Video shows the sparkling Sister Bay marina and the vendors who sell handmade products at Marina Fest
  • Organizers said this year's Marina Fest featured its most-ever vendors and food trucks
  • A large fireworks show headlined the festival Saturday night

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Marina Fest has been a Door County staple for nearly three decades, as Sister Bay celebrates the expansion of this marina. I'm Karl Winter, and although this year features more vendors, food trucks, and live music, the biggest thing locals want people to take away from Marina Fest is the love and family atmosphere.

"Marina Fest brings people from all over, and they see how unique Sister Bay is," Mary Schmal said.

Mary Schmal wrote a book series set at the lighthouse on Rock Island in Door County. She promotes the books at Marina Fest every year, and it's a family affair — Schmal's granddaughter Autumn sells apple cider with her grandfather. Autumn is also featured on the cover of one of the books.

"That's me in my little costume, with a little bag," Autumn said.

Autumn says the festival is important to her family's small businesses.

"I like spending time with my family, and this also helps us to earn money for other stuff," she said. "[…] I like helping people, and I like serving people."

Organizers say this is the most vendors ever at Marina Fest. Another one is Roy Ames, who helped a team build a canoe.

"They fit together like so," Ames said, demonstrating.

[The canoe] will be raffled off to benefit the Door County Maritime Museum.

"It's a labor of love," Ames said. "It's a beautiful boat; it's a lot of fun working with the people that do it."

The festival began nearly three decades ago to thank the Village for expanding the marina. It now features live music, food trucks, and more, with proceeds going to non-profits.

"The charm of Door County is that there are mom-and-pop shops," Schmal said. "So when you go into a restaurant, it's not McDonalds."

Ames says that history and community are cornerstones of the event.

"It's a real important aspect to make sure that the youth of today understand what helped create the environment that we have here," Ames said.

Marina Fest wraps up Sunday evening, but the tourist season does not, as the Fall Lighthouse Festival is coming up in late September, and that's when the winner of Roy's boat will be announced.