MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Perchville USA Junior King Donovan Nicklyn, left, and Junior Queen McKenzie Nunn are shown here during the Coronation Breakfast on Saturday, where they were honored alongside 2020 festival King and Queen, Paul and Tracy Stevelinck. The fun has just gotten underway for these regal representatives, who will be presiding over some of the activities during the 70th run of Perchville USA. The winter festival returns Thursday, with events lasting into the evening on Saturday, Feb. 8.

EAST TAWAS – The snow-covered community has set the stage for Perchville USA’s milestone anniversary, with 2020 marking the 70th year of the winter festival.

Several Perchville activities were held this past weekend (see separate story), and the entertainment will start up again tomorrow (Thursday) with the Royal Feast.

Sponsored by the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC), the event will continue through Saturday, Feb. 8. The following is a full list of the festival fun to be had, and more details are available via the TACC website at www.tawas.com, or at facebook.com/perchvilleusa/. For further inquiries, chamber staff may be contacted at 362-8643.

The online resources noted above are also where attendees can access registration forms and rules for the various activities and contests that will go on during the festival. Forms can be picked up in person from the TACC office, as well, which is located at 228 Newman St. in East Tawas.

Additionally, helpers will be on hand this Saturday at the Perchville Headquarters, located in the Family Theatre on Newman Street. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., guests can purchase their festival buttons and Chilly Cook-Off cozies at the headquarters, and also receive more information about the event.

Perchville USA buttons are currently on sale for $5 at numerous businesses throughout Tawas City and East Tawas. While many of the events are free to enjoy, there are a handful of activities for which the buttons – that also serve as fun festival keepsakes – are required. Further, each one is printed with its own distinct number, and event goers can check their buttons at participating establishments during the Chilly Cook-Off, to see if their number has won them a prize.

Chamber representatives note that the Perchville activities and schedule are subject to change, so call their office or visit the TACC website for the most up-to-date details.

Thursday, Feb. 6:

Taking center stage at the Perchville Royal Feast this Thursday will be the festival’s 2020 King and Queen, Paul and Tracy Stevelinck of Tawas City, along with Junior Royalty members Donovan Nicklyn and McKenzie Nunn. Some of the past royalty reps are expected to make an appearance, as well.

This year’s regal representatives received their crowns, as reported, after being nominated for their character, community involvement and other standout traits. As part of their royal duties, all four will be presiding over various events during Perchville.

The Royal Feast in their honor will run from 5-8 p.m. at Rushman Hall, formerly the Knights of Columbus building, located at 821 Newman St. in East Tawas. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased from either the TACC office or Great Lakes Insurance Agency in Tawas City.

The soirée will feature an introduction to the King and Queen and Junior King and Queen; a buffet style dinner, including a vegetable, potato, dessert and your choice of chicken or swiss steak; a cash bar; and entertainment by the Sip N Singers, comprised of Tracee Lentz, Dale Harwood, Carol Kushion, Bob Haviland, Jim Rupert and Alexis Grover.

Friday, Feb. 7:

The Friday festival activities will begin with the Knights of Columbus’ Perch Dinner Fish Fry at Rushman Hall, from 4-7 p.m.

From 5-9 p.m., the Perchville Hospitality Tent will be open to visitors age 21 and older, who must present a valid ID and their festival button upon entry. The heated tent will be situated in the parking lot of the former Look dealership, at 200 Newman St., and beverage tickets can be purchased inside for $4 each.

The tent is also where a cornhole tournament will be held, with registration starting promptly at 5 p.m. The fee to participate is $20 per team, and the competition will commence at 5:30 p.m. The entry fee can be paid at registration, or brought to the TACC office by 3 p.m. on Friday. Sign-up will be on a first-come, first-served basis until the bracket is full.

The single elimination tournament is doubles play, meaning all teams must have two members. Games are played to 21 points, and more information is offered on the TACC website.

Spectators who don’t take part in the cornhole tourney can still get in on the excitement, just for being an onlooker. Fans may register their Perchville button number when they enter the venue, in order to have their name included in a drawing for a shot at winning a camping tent, two camping chairs and a cooler. According to those from TACC, the lucky number holder must be present to win.

Friday night entertainment has been scheduled for the younger crowd, as well, with Tawas Ravens Youth Football and Cheerleading having organized a Pre-Teen Dance. It will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the gymnasium of Tawas Area High School, located at 255 W. M-55 in Tawas City. The entrance fee is $3.

Feb. 7 is also the registration deadline for anglers looking to take part in one of two fishing contests.

Participants must be at least 18 years of age to enter the Shanty Showdown Fishing Tournament, for a chance to claim cash prizes. Those under 18 years old may enter the Shanty Showdown Big Fish Contest to win other prizes. In each case, competitors must register by 3 p.m. on Friday at the TACC building, Northwoods Outlet in Pinconning or online at either www.tawas.com or the Perchville Facebook page.

There is no entry fee for the youth event, but there is a $20 cost – which includes a Perchville button – for those joining in on the Shanty Showdown Fishing Tournament.

For the youth event, first through third place prizes will be awarded in all categories, those being perch, walleye, pike, bluegill, whitefish, crappie, burbot, trout, sucker and carp. These categories also apply to the 18 and older event, which boasts a grand prize of $500 for the heaviest limit of walleye. Cash prizes of $100 will be given for the heaviest fish in all the other species categories, as well, courtesy of several local businesses. In addition, a $500 gift card – compliments of Forwards – will be given for the heaviest haul of perch (combined weight of five).

Both contests will officially begin at 12:01 a.m. the next day, and all categories will be judged by weight. In the event of a tie, the winning fish will be determined by length. TACC representatives note that all of Saginaw Bay is open for walleye, burbot, sucker, carp and trout. All other categories are open to any body of water in Iosco County.

The last weigh-in for each showdown is 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, at the East Tawas Community Center. The building is located at 760 Newman St. in East Tawas, and a complimentary dinner will be provided during the awards ceremony. Winners must be present to claim their prizes, and adult finalists must also present picture ID.

Saturday, Feb. 8:

The festival finale day will feature an abundance of activities, beginning first thing in the morning with two separate fishing challenges. (See information above for more details).

Those who will still be fast asleep at that time, though, can wait until 9 a.m. to kick off their day. This is when the doors will open at Christ Episcopal Church, located at 202 Westover St. in East Tawas, for the annual bake sale. While it is scheduled to last until 2 p.m., the goodies are known to go fast, so hungry festival attendees may want to make their purchases early.

Dewey Durant Park, located at 712 W. Franklin St. in East Tawas, will also be among the Perchville event sites. Here, the pits will open at 10 a.m. for ATV Barrel Race participants, with the event itself beginning at noon.

Registration forms and rules can be obtained online or at the TACC office, and the $10 entry fee per racer will go directly in the purse for 100 percent payout. Forms can be returned to TACC staff, or given to race coordinator TJ Birkenbach on the day of the event. For more information, Birkenbach may be reached at 305-1824.

The races are a popular festival event, as is the annual Perchville Parade, which will get underway this year at 10:30 a.m. The route will begin at the Tawas City Fire Department on Mathews Street, with the procession making its way down US-23 and ending on Newman Street in East Tawas.

The parade should wrap up just in time for event goers to get in on another Perchville tradition – the Chilly Cook-Off. 

Hosted by the East Tawas Business Association, taste testers can pick up a coozie for $6 from the TACC building, Family Theatre, Brew Krew or the Village Chocolatier, all of which are located downtown. The coozies can be used to scoop up chili samples from more than 20 participating businesses along Newman Street, after which guests can vote for the best batch.

Attendees will want to warm up with a cup or two of the tasty concoctions, especially if they plan on taking part in one of the Polar Bear Swims on Saturday.

The plunges have typically been held near the DNR boat launch, where brave participants jump into the frigid water of Lake Huron through a hole cut into the ice. But there has been a location change for 2020 and the events will instead be held next to the East Tawas State Dock, in front of the campground, near the intersection of Newman Street and US-23.

Coordinators advise that, out of necessity, the Polar Bear Swim will be conducted as a run this year. They have pointed out that there may not be solid ice, but there is still icy water.

Participants can sign up ahead of time through either the TACC office or via an online form, but a registration trailer will also be open at the event site at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The cost is $20 per person, which includes a souvenir T-shirt that only the bold swimmers can acquire. 

No one under 16 years of age is allowed to participate, and entrants 16-17 years old must have a parent/guardian’s signature.

Upon registering, participants can choose to take their daring leap at either the first Polar Plunge, set for 1:30 p.m., or the second event at 3:30 p.m.

The Frozen Chosen military style shooting event has also been a part of Perchville for a number of years, and the 2020 contest will start at 11 a.m.

Hosted at Iosco Sportsmen’s Club – located at 1600 S. US-23 in East Tawas – shooters can take part in the 100-yard event using a vintage, or any other style rifle. Proceeds from the $10 entry fee go to the American Legion Honor Guard.

Also starting at 11 a.m. will be the Family Expo in the East Tawas Community Center. Similar to the family tent from past Perchville years, the expo will feature fun booths for children, outdoor and recreational booths for those of all ages, hourly prize drawings, face painting, a 4-H petting zoo and a chance to purchase snacks and refreshments – the sales of which benefit activities for local youth.

There will also be demonstrations by K9 Search and Rescue at noon and 3 p.m., as well as performances by Clark the Juggler at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Further, the Family Expo will give youngsters a chance to participate in the Teen Amazing Race. Registration begins at noon outside of the community center, with the race commencing at 1 p.m.

According to TACC, all children’s wristbands for entry have been paid for by Tawas Bay Insurance Agency and Cole’s Appliance & Home Furnishings. Adults will also be admitted at no charge.

The activities at the center will last until 4 p.m., with the drawing for the first annual Perchville USA Raffle then taking place in the venue at approximately 5 p.m.

Sponsored by TACC, tickets cost $5 each, or three for $10, and winners need not be present to claim their prizes. A Weber grill, ice auger and shelter combo, two-night stay at Timberline Resort and a $250 “Taste of Tawas” package are among the goodies up for grabs.

Adult Perchville goers looking to warm up and unwind in the Hospitality Tent will be able to do so from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Live entertainment will be provided by the bands FLiPSiDE and No Baloney and, for more information about the tent, see the Friday itinerary above.

A comedy show has also been included in the Perchville lineup, and it will begin at 6 p.m. in Rushman Hall. Headlined by Bill Hildabrandt, doors open at 5:30 p.m. and tickets are $25, which include dinner. All proceeds will be used to benefit Project Graduation 2020.

The event is open to those 21 and older, and will feature a cash bar. The show will also include appearances by Melissa Hager and Michigan native Tom E Thompson.

According to organizers, Hildabrandt is famous for his long time stretch headlining on the Las Vegas strip, and his old school style will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Tickets for the show can be purchased online through Eventbrite, or in person at Great Lakes Insurance Agency.

The 70th annual Perchville USA winter festival will wrap up with the Shanty Showdown awards ceremony at the East Tawas Community Center, just after the last weigh-in for the tournament at 7 p.m. (Details on the fishing contests and awards are provided in this story with the schedule of events for Friday).

Shuttle Service Information: 

For safety and convenience, free shuttle services will be provided from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Guests may park at one of 10 different stops and ride the Iosco Transit shuttle bus to various Perchville festivities. 

The stops for this year are the DNR boat launch, the corner of Newman and Westover streets (Hospitality Tent area), East Tawas Day Use area parking, East Tawas State Dock parking, Dewey Durant Park, The Buckhorn Inn, Tawas City Shoreline Park, the East Tawas Community Center, Days Inn and Gateway Park.