Throwback Thursday: Birth of the National Trout Festival

Crowning-the-Trout-King-by-UpNorth-Memories

Crowning the King at Kalkaska, photo by Don Harrison/UpNorth Memories

Peter E. Ummel, of Grand Rapids, was the first King, chosen and crowned by myself. The Coronation ceremony dragged out a little too long to suit Harold Jors, who had lined up the parade and was waiting at the school grounds for word for the parade to start. He finally sent down a message, “Cut the comedy and hurry up as we are freezing to death.”
~author Fred H. Tomkins

Today’s post comes via the eatdrinkTC Culinary Almanac where I am the editor.

Michigan’s trout season opens this Saturday (April 26) and as it has for 78 years, the people of Kalkaska will mark the occasion with the annual National Trout Festival from Wednesday, April 23 – Sunday, April 27 (persistent music warning on that link!).  After Don Harrison posted a couple of cool old postcards, we decided to dig through the internet to discover the festival’s origins.

From Big Trout Black Gold, Dawn Triplett, editor and published by Kalkaska Genealogical Society:

In 1935, the National Trout Festival made its first official debut with two days of festivities held on April 30 and May 1. Forty floats made up the parade held on the first day.

The Trout King was crowned in the bandstand where evergreen boughs were arrayed. Mr. Peter Emanuel Ummel of Grand Rapids was chosen to rule the festival. With great ceremony he was put under oath and given a crown. Fred H. Tompkins swore the ruler in, making him repeat the long comic sketch swearing his allegiance to Kalkaska County. King Ummel’s throne was a pine stump from the plains of Kalkaska mounted on a trailer and drawn by a car. He took his place on the throne and was driven around the block and up and down main street (Cedar Street) before the parade.

…The prize for the funniest float went to S. C. Shumsky who appeared in full fishing regalia but had his feet clad in skis. Stormy weather had brought some snow showers into the area the day before.

View Don’s photo bigger on Facebook along with several more pics and be sure to check out his collection of Trout Festival pins and pics on Flickr. If you head over to the eatdrinkTC Natinal Trout Festival feature, there is a slideshow of the Festival through its 7+ decades.

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