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Fond du Lac ready for this weekend's Sturgeon Spectacular

Sturgeon Spectacular sign in downtown Fond du Lac
Posted at 6:29 PM, Feb 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-09 19:38:49-05

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Organizers of Fond du Lac’s Sturgeon Spectacular began planning for the three-day festival more than six months ago. Now, the final preparations are in place for Friday’s kickoff.

All of this weekend’s dozens of events focus on one thing: sturgeon.

“There's been a tradition of sturgeon spearing,” Pete Wilke, executive director of Fond du Lac Festivals said. “That community has been in Fond du Lac for decades, and been doing this for, I think, over a century out on Lake Winnebago. And we want to keep that tradition alive.”

But sturgeon spearing isn’t the only thing visitors can participate in this weekend.

“We designed the festival to have like two kinds of hubs of activity,” Craig Molitor, president of Destination Lake Winnebago Region said. “The way Fond du Lac is, is that our downtown district on Main Street is like a three-minute drive from Lakeside Park. Lakeside Park, you can tell by the name, is right on the shores of the mighty Lake Winnebago. So the two are very, very close to each other.”

At Lakeside Park, curling enthusiasts can compete on the ice, and kids can enjoy games and crafts inside the pavilion.

“I didn't know that there was sort of this underground curling community in our town because when they get out there, they really appear to know what they're doing and some of the stuff they're doing is amazing,” Molitor said.

Downtown, several local businesses are offering chili samplings during a “chili crawl” Saturday morning as the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts hosts indoor activities.

“We're going to have sturgeon-themed mini-games, a kind of carnival style picture, ring toss, that kind of a thing,” Shannon Kupfer, Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts executive director and curator said. “We also are going to have the princesses from Frozen roaming around. We'll play the Frozen movie. And we'll also have cookie decorating little sturgeon cookies.”

On Sheboygan Street outside of the Thelma building, ice sculptors will be competing to make one-of-a-kind creations out of giant ice blocks. The blocks have been outside for days, and have managed to stay frozen despite warm temperatures earlier in the week.

“When it's tightly packed like this, it actually lasts longer,” Wilke said. “And it kind of creates a refrigerator-type atmosphere by having these insulated blankets.”

That is just another example of how organizers have to roll with the punches every year to put on such a massive event.

“We moved the curling Funspeil, the tournament that we host out to Lake Winnebago, a couple of years ago because of weather,” Wilke said. “Our outdoor curling rink downtown did not freeze solid, so we had to make adjustments and a contingency right at the last minute so we had to shift everything out to Lakeside Park.”

All of these plans will be set in motion Friday, with events lasting until Sunday.