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Community prepares for Sturgeon Spectacular

The eighth annual Sturgeon Spectacular is set to kick off in Fond du Lac Friday night, and community members say they're hoping to make it bigger and better than ever.
The annual 'running of the sturgeon' is a chance to chase Jerry the Sturgeon during Sturgeon Spectacular
Posted at 4:00 AM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 10:49:52-05

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — The 8th annual Sturgeon Spectacular is set to get underway Friday in Fond du Lac, and community leaders say they're planning to bring back some of their most popular activities like snow sculpting and curling while adding some new flair to this year's event.

NBC 26 Today anchor MacLeod Hageman is discovering Fond du Lac ahead of the weekend festivities to share what's new and what's coming back, and organizers say there's something for everyone — no matter how old you are.

"It's pretty exciting. It just feels like, WOW! I haven't done it in a long time, and I love doing this," Emma Molitor said.

Eight-year-old Emma is already gearing up for this weekend's annual Spearing of Jerry at the Sturgeon during Sturgeon Spectacular. Emma's dad, Craig, is reminding parents that it's all in good fun and not dangerous.

"Of course, they're pretend spears. We try to coach the kids ahead of time to be a little gentle, but sometimes that becomes a little raucous," Destination Lake Winnebago President, Craig Molitor said.

Craig says Sturgeon Spectacular is Fond du Lac's premier family-friendly event.

Crews prepare for Sturgeon Spectacular

"So, to bring genuine entertainment to a kid that age, and to know parents are going to be comfortable with it, it's an awesome feeling," Craig said.

Craig said there will be arcade-style games, entertainment, and food; but the Pamplona-style Running of the Sturgeon seems to be a family favorite among children.

"We refer to him as Jerry the Sturgeon, and one of Jerry's premier activities during Sturgeon Spectacular is we try to stage events where kids can run after Jerry and stab them with their spears," Craig said.

In preparation for this weekend's event, truckloads of snow are brought in from Sunburst Ski Area. The snow will be formed into blocks and later sculpted for families to enjoy.

"This is just a ball of energy. There's a great vibe down here between Thelma and the ice sculptures. Between everything that's happening down here with the parade and out on the lake, we're just really proud to be part of it," said 18 Hands Ale Haus owner, Sam Meyer.

18 Hands Ale Haus will offer local favorites

Meyer says Sturgeon Spectacular gives business owners the shot in the arm they need.

"It really helps the downtown businesses. It's family-friendly, and I think everyone has a lot of fun doing it," Meyer said.

Ann Culver of Annie's Fountain City Cafe said she looks forwardto Sturgeon Spectacular every year.

Ann will offer special menu items throughout the weekend

"It's fun. It's fun. With winter, it looks like the weather is going to be great this weekend. So, we should see a lot of activity this weekend, and it's just so fun seeing all the people walking around and participating," Culver said.

Emma Grace Molitor says if you're not sure whether to show up this weekend, "well, grab a spear. You gotta run, if you're good at running, and that's good for you, and that guy over there, you've got to spear him."

Festivities kick off Friday and go through Sunday. Turning out will really help local business owners, and they would love to host families all weekend. Organizers say there's not a perfect day to show up, because there's something different every single day. Ann Culver said she looks forward to the ice sculptures every year, and she even adjusted her menu to accommodate the special event.

"Well, we love the day, because there are so many people coming out for coffee and breakfast. We offer a snickerdoodle sturgeon drink. So, it's a snickerdoodle cookie that's shaped like a sturgeon. So, it was something that we found that was really cool to do, and it was fun," Culver said.

You can also stop by Lakeside Park to enjoy music and fun. So there are activities spread out between two different locations.

Sam Meyer says he really loves Sturgeon Spectacular because it's a fun event for everyone all weekend.

"Between the parade, the snow sculptures, and the ice sculptures, it's a very family-friendly event that I think everyone will be able to enjoy," Meyer said.

Meyer says he plans to have chili for customers all weekend and live music.