CONNEAUT — The three-day Perch and Pilsner Festival at Conneaut Township Park features live music, an inflatable bounce area for children, craft vendors, a fishing tournament, local wine, 28 different beers, fireworks and plenty of food — specifically seafood.
According to Jeff Raisian, chair of the Perch and Pilsner Festival, the inspiration for the festival stemmed from other festivals in the surrounding area.
“We started it because I wanted our area to have something that we could call our own,” Raisian said. “Ashtabula has Uncorked and Wine and Walleye, Geneva’s got the Jamboree. We have D-day but that’s kind of a different animal.”
Christopher Bennett, of Bennett Fish Company, estimates they’ll sell approximately 1,500 to 2,000 perch dinners, buckets or walleye combinations all weekend.
Bennet said there were difficulties acquiring perch for the festival this year because quotas for Lake Erie commercial fishermen were cut 30%, ultimately increasing the price of perch and affecting availability.
But, he was still able to acquire enough product for the festival to satisfy the large estimate of perch he plans to sell.
Kicking off the weekend with live music was Ernest T. Band, a four piece band performing together for 13 years in the genres of rock and roll, rockabilly and blues.
Michael Penna, bass player for Ernest T. Band, said he’s happy with this year’s favorable weather after being rained out at last year’s event.
“I think it’s a great venue. There’s a lot of enthusiasm from the people putting the event on and they’re very responsive to us and wanted us to come back so that’s what we’re here for,” Penna said.
This year, the festival has doubled in size compared to its inaugural year in 2018.
In Raisian’s opinion, Conneaut now has a festival the community can be proud of.
The Perch and Pilsner Festival continues Saturday 12 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.