Salmon Festival tips off with fish boil

Friday night, Andrew Sytsma was taking bites of salmon. This morning, he hopes the salmon are the ones biting. Sytsma, of Sparta, will join his dad, Gary Sytsma of Grand Haven, for their fourth and final salmon fishing tournament of the year. They spent Friday evening enjoying the scents and sounds at the eighth annual Fresh Catch Fish Boil along Grand Haven's waterfront. "This is our second year here, so I think that makes us regulars,' Gary said. "It's good food, good entertainment, and you see people you may only see once a year.'
Marie Havenga
Sep 16, 2011


Axel Ewald of Grand Rapids made a special trip to Grand Haven to attend the fish boil, sponsored by the Sons of the American Legion.

“It’s for a great cause,” said Ewald while volunteers heaped salmon, boiled potatoes, onions and sweet corn on his plate and doused it with a ladle of hot butter. “This is my first time here — but if they continue like this, I’ll come back next year for sure. It’s very well-organized and the people are really friendly.”

Rich VanDoorne is no first-timer. He’s been the chief salmon boiler since the Grand Haven Salmon Festival’s inception. VanDoorne served 960 boiled salmon seekers last year and close to 1,000 on Friday night.

“This is my part — the boiling of the fish,” said VanDoorne, who has been using the same recipe for more than a half-century. “It’s my own recipe. I’ve been making it for years for my family and friends, but I had to convert it to a bigger recipe. This event seems to get bigger every year.”

Jordan Smaka was a small fry at Friday’s fish boil.

“I like the taste,” said Jordan, 5, a Rosy Mound Elementary School kindergartner.

Jordan and her twin sister, Taylor; their brother, Cayden; and their mom and dad, Heather and Aaron, hit the fish boil for the first time on Friday.

“It’s delicious,” Heather said, while sitting at a round table under the festival tent. “We’re doing this, then we’re heading over to the (Grand Haven High School) football game. It’s dinner out with the kids and we don’t have to clean up afterwards.”

The clean-up that did happen at Friday’s event will leave no footprint on the environment. N trash from the fish boil will land in a landfill. Customers brought their waste to a compost collection station staffed by volunteers.

Salmon Festival events continue today with a fishing tournament, children’s activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a salmon cookoff from 1-5 p.m. The Grand Haven Area Jaycees Fall Harvest Entertainment Tent is open from 7 p.m. to midnight with live music by Soul’d Out.

To see more photos from the fish boil, click here.


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