Grand Haven residents Glen and Jan Gronevelt tasted wine and enjoyed food from the Salmon Cook-off.
“It’s fun,” Glen said. “It’s kind of boisterous. It adds to the festival atmosphere.
The Gronevelts easily worked their way through the big white tent in the City Marina parking lot.
“The setup is great. It’s well organized,” said Jan as she perused the next booth along their route.
Area restaurants and wineries set up tables within the big tent — the restaurants competing for the best-tasting salmon dish and the wineries doling out samples of their wine.
Outside the tent patrons sat at café-type tables and enjoyed their food, wine, music and sunshine.
Nearby Allyson Pumphrey of Indianapolis waited to take her turn at the Grape Stomp.
She and her fiancé, Matt Mitchell, were in town to celebrate their engagement.
“We just randomly picked Grand Haven for the weekend,” Mitchell said.
“We didn’t know this was going on,” Pumphrey said.
Pumphrey stepped into a small tub to clean her feet. Then she was on stage, facing competition from Ontario, Canada.
“We’re here for a girls weekend,” said Pumphrey’s competition, Beth Hackett. “We just googled things to do in Michigan four hours away,” she said.
Forty-five seconds later her white, rolled-up pants were splattered with grape juice and she was out of breath.
“That was hard,” she puffed.
Six bushels of grapes were stomped throughout the course of the afternoon.
Dave and Anna Hollar of Grand Haven waited to remove the mushed grapes and juice.
“It’s going to be processed into jams and wine,” Anna said. “It’s all heat processed,” she said as she glanced at the stompers’ grape-stained feet.
Hollar said this was all part of the festival going green and the goal to have zero waste this year.
She said they offered to take the grapes for personal use after seeing a request online for someone to take them.
Outside the tent, children participated in a variety of activities at the Salmon Festival Kids Zone.
Darlene Hitsman of Grand Haven encouraged her children to get up close to some turtles in an animal exhibit.
“We were at the farmer’s market and heard all the commotion,” she said. “We thought we’d check it out.
More than 1,000 people were served at the fish boil on Friday and a couple thousand people attended the cook-off/wine tasting on Saturday, said Marci Cisneros, director of the Grand Area Haven Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“We went through 1,200 pounds (of salmon) for both events,” she said.
“The weather was amazing,” she said. “It really was just a picture perfect way to celebrate our 10 years. We had record attendance at all of the events.”
Salmon Cook-off Awards:
Most Michigan Influence & Judge’s Choice / Best of Show Kirby House - Chef Andrew Sprite Salmon BLT- Grilled salmon, local bacon, heirloom baby lettuce and farm fresh tomatoes with goat cheese and grilled artisan bread. Grilled salmon Local bacon from Devries Farm in Coopersville Heirloom Lettuce and tomatoes from Grandson's Gardens in Port Sheldon Michigan Goat Cheese Grand Haven Bakehouse bread
Most Creative Dish - Artisan Cooking School (Chef Howard Norris) Hickory Influenced Grilled Salmon on Creamy Roasted Garlic Grits, Grilled Michigan Peaches, Red Onions, Fire Roasted Poblano, Green Chili Gastrique, and Apple Smoked Bacon
Best Presentation - Jack’s Bistro & Bar (Chef Todd Riemersma) Jalapeno Bacon “N” Smoked Salmon Mac “N” Cheese Apple wood smoked salmon, jalapeno infused bacon, Michigan spinach, gruyere, white cheddar and goat cheese sauce topped with a parmesan panko crust.
People’s Choice - Grand Pines Assisted Living Center (Chef Aaron Shapiro) Marinated Grilled Salmon Champagne, Portobello and Pancetta Vinaigrette Steamed Asparagus Tips Goat Cheese and Herb Orzo Pasta
Salmon Cook-off Judges:
Mayor Geri McCaleb, City of Grand Haven
Senator Arlan Meekhof, State of Michigan
Chef Randy Finch, Food Network/Icebrigades
Chef Bruce Konowalow, Dean/Culinary Institute of Michigan
CWO Brad Wise, United States Coast Guard