Christine "Chris" Aller

EAST TAWAS – Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce has a new managing director and she’s a familiar face.

She is Christina “Chris” Aller, who has been with the chamber for the past three years, most recently as office manager. Aller began her position as managing director on Dec. 20. She replaces Penny Payea, who resigned as managing director in November after accepting a position with Michigan Works! Payea had held the post since December 2017.

“I love working with people,” said Aller.

Aller said she also loved to volunteer, especially with the local Salvation Army chapter and at New Hope Church in East Tawas, where she has been a member since 2008. With the Salvation Army, she helps organize trips to serve on its Bed and Breads trucks, which delivers food and bedding for homeless persons in Detroit. With the church, she helps with its Bountiful Harvest and backpack programs.

Aller and her husband, Gary “Joe,” have three daughters, two of whom currently attend Tawas Area Schools. Aller and her husband are both Tawas Area High School graduates.

“We have deep-seated love for this community,” she said of the Tawases. “We’re very blessed to live in a community as beautiful as we have here.”

As for her future plans for the chamber, Aller said her intent is “to go a full cycle year as managing director to get to know all the events to have scheduled successfully,” before she decides whether or not to make any changes. She notes, however, that there will be some changes for the 2020 70th annual Perchville USA winter festival (see separate story).


Perchville changes in store this year


EAST TAWAS – According to event coordinators with the sponsoring Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce, there are some “big” changes for the 70th annual Perchville USA.

The winter festival kicks off on Feb. 1 and concludes on Feb. 8. There are no events this year on Sunday during he Perchville weekend.

New chamber Managing Director Christina Aller, and Perchville coordinators Suzan and Heath Nemeth, say the event is offering something for everyone! 

What are the “big” changes? First, the family tent is moving indoors and becoming a Family Expo. It will be located in the East Tawas Community Center starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday Feb. 8. The community center is also the location where the Shanty Showdown fishing contests will weigh in and the location of the awards.

The Shanty Showdown will be a one-day event and broken into two contests. The Shanty Showdown tournaments will offer a grand prize of $500 for adults and the Shanty Showdown Big Fish Contest for the kids with prizes in 10 categories. Both events begin at 12:01 a.m. on the Feb. 8 with the last weigh in at 7 p.m. and awards directly after at the Family Expo in the East Tawas Community Center. 

After listening to comments at the awards ceremony last year, the coordinators with the chamber felt it was important to not lose focus on the fishing contest and turn it into more of a tournament to bring more people to the area. Registrations forms can be found at or on the Perchville Facebook page. 

In addition, the Family Expo will have the 4-H petting zoo, fun booths for children, the Amazing Teen Race – teams of two, this event will be outside the building and a parent’s signature will be required, recreational displays for adults, hot chocolate, coffee and food for purchases. There is not a fee to get into the Expo.

The next “big” change is the location of the hospitality tent. It will be located in the Look’s parking lot, where the family tent previously resided. According to the chamber, the Department of Natural Resources parking lot that we used the last few years was repaved over the summer which would not allow for a safe and affordable installation of the tent. It has instead been moved downtown.

There will be music and a cornhole tournament in the hospitality tent on Friday, Feb. 7. 

Live music starting at noon until 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8 with Flipside, followed by No Boloney. Persons must be 21 years of age or older with a picture ID and a Perchville button to enter the hospitality tent.

The Polar Plunge tradition will take place on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. ATV and side by side barrel races will be located at Dewey Durant Park. Pits will open Saturday at 10 a.m. with races starting at noon. Registration forms for both events can be found at the chamber’s website and Facebook pages.

Perchville kicks off at the Knights of Columbus Rushman Hall on Saturday, Feb. 1 with the Coronation Breakfast starting at 10 a.m. The entry is only a Perchville button which can be purchased at many local businesses as well as at the door. 

Attendees at the breakfast will witness the crowning of the Perchville USA 2020 King and Queen and Jr. King and Queen, get a chance to win some prizes and kick off the family friendly road rally.

Chamber officials said they are anticipating a license for another addition to the 70th anniversary celebration – a raffle. The combined value of the prizes is currently more than $3,000 with the top prize being valued at $1,500.

Persons interested in getting involved as volunteer, become a sponsor or setting up a fun booth, are asked to contact Aller at the chamber at 362-8643 or Suzan Nemeth at 820-5257.