Array of attractions, including music star Josh Thompson, will highlight celebration’s golden anniversary Saturday
Fish Day, Port Washington’s celebration of its fishing heritage, is turning 50 Saturday, and as many as 50,000 people are expected to turn out for the party.
“Fish Day — 50 Years and Still Frying” is the festival theme.
“This year, we’re celebrating not just the city’s fishing heritage but the people who come home for Fish Day,” festival chairman Mary Monday said. “It truly is a social gathering and a time when people come together — for class reunions, for family reunions and just for the fun of it.”
In keeping with the idea of bringing people back to Port, past Fish Day Committee members will serve as marshals for the 100-unit parade and the headline music act will be country recording artist Josh Thompson, a Cedarburg native who now lives in Nashville.
Thompson’s latest album, “Turn It Up” is described as a country party album with plenty of swagger, energy and attitude. The lead single from the album, “Cold Beer With Your Name on It” has reached the Top 30 in country airplay.
Thompson will play the Main Street Stage from 8 to 9:30 p.m., when a bigger than normal fireworks show will be shot off from Coal Dock Park.
“We want to applaud all the volunteers who work that day and everybody who’s involved,” Monday said.
Thousands of pounds of golden fish and chips will share the spotlight at this year’s festival — the largest and oldest fest in Port Washington.
Fish Day includes something for everyone — an 8-kilometer run and 2-mile walk and run, parade, carnival, classic car show, arts and crafts area, smoked fish and ice cream eating contests, plenty of music, a spectacular fireworks show and, of course, a bounty of delicious fried fish and chips.
This year, fried cheese curds have been added to the menu, joining chicken strips, craft beers, traditional beer, nonalcoholic beer, hard lemonade, Gatorade, soda and water.
Fish Day kicks off at 8 a.m. with a run and walk to benefit Portal Industries, which provides training and employment opportunities for developmentally disabled adults in Ozaukee County. The race will be chip-timed, providing precise information and almost instantaneous race results.
One of the most widely anticipated events each year is the parade, which starts at 10 a.m.
Because of construction, the parade will line up on the east side of Wisconsin Street, not the west side. The detour route for drivers trying to get through the city during the parade will also be altered from its usual path, but the parade itself will remain unchanged.
After the parade, many of the bands will perform standstill concerts on the festival grounds.
Music is one of the main attractions at Fish Day, and this year is no exception.
“Just about every band playing at Fish Day has received or been nominated for a WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) Award,” Monday said.
In addition to Thompson, other musical performers on the Main Stage include Nora Collins from 12:45 to 3:30 p.m. and Road Crew from 4 to 7:30 p.m.
Headlining the Blues Stage at 6 p.m. will be Reverend Ravin and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys.
Swingin’ Johnsons will perform on the stage from 10:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., followed by Tweed Funk from 2:15 to 5:30 p.m.
The Classic Rock Stage will be headlined at 7 p.m. by King of Clubs.
Tangle Foot will open the stage, performing from 10:30 a.m. to noon, followed by The Flood from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Doing It Live Karaoke will give performers in area karaoke competitions the chance to perform with a band 4 to 6:30 p.m.
The Lakeview Stage near the corner of Lake and Jackson streets will be headlined by The Cheap Shots at 6:30 p.m.
Others performing there include Random Maxx from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Blue Light Scene from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and The Squeezettes from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
DJD Train will perform at the Family Stage in Upper Lake Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
All the music is free, with the exception of the Main Stage acts. A Fish Day button is required for entrance there. The button is $2 before the festival or $5 at the gate.
Other events aimed at families include a carnival with a large Ferris wheel and an antique carousel in Veterans Memorial Park.
Helicopter rides will also take off from the park.
Among the family entertainment are the popular no-hands ice cream eating contest at 2:45 p.m. at the Family Stage and the traditional smoked fish eating contest at 1:30 p.m. at the Lakeview Stage.
An easy way to cool off during the festival is at the soccer water fights. Teams of three youths can sign up for the water fights at 2:30 p.m., with contests starting at 3 p.m.
At the Family Stage in Upper Lake Park, M.L. Flyers will perform a tumbling show from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Lake Shore Dance will take the stage at 1 p.m., followed by Main Street Song and Dance at 2:15 p.m. The Ronald McDonald Safety House will take over at 3:15 p.m.
The Upper Lake Park bluff is the location for the arts and crafts show and the classic car show, which run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The festival closes with a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.