November 21, 2014

Sucker derby swims back for second year

Bigger and better

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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OMER — It’s been years since Omer discontinued its weekend long sucker festival, but last year the city introduced the one-day Omer Sucker Derby, and this year, on April 4, it’s back.

And bigger.

“We’re hoping to have at least 100 entries (in the tournament) but the way things are going it’s looking like we’re going to have more than that,” said sucker derby committee vice-president Vickie Sheeder, adding that there’s not only more fishermen taking interest. “We’ve had more people stepping up to donate prizes.”

“It should be a cheap way to have a good time,” said Omer’s mayor Alice Sproule. “We just hope that families will come out and enjoy the sucker season, enjoy being together and enjoy some beautiful spring weather.”

To accommodate for more anglers signing up to catch the top 20 heaviest fish to receive a cash prize (based on 100 entries), there will be more time to register for the event. Sheeder says registration will start on April 3 under a tent outside of Greg’s Market and fishermen will have until noon the day of the derby to register for the tournament. Last year there was no registration on the day of the event. Registration is $22 for adults, which includes the cost of a $2 Sucker Derby button necessary to compete. The registration fee for children is $2.

According to Sheeder, she has had meetings with Arenac County Sheriff James Mosciski to discuss a plan on patrolling during the derby – an issue that caused some complaints last year.

“They (participants) thought it was patrolled a little too much,” she said. “We’re going to keep it peaceful this year.”

“We’ve never had trouble with the fishermen,” Sproule added. She also says the city stayed clean during last year’s derby.

“We’ve certainly never had a problem with trash.”

However, in between the fishing action, there will be more to do during the derby.

“We’re going to have vendors,” Sheeder said. “We are looking for more. … Because of the way the economy is, I think it’ll help these smaller business people who want to sell their goods.”

Sheeder added vendors will set up shop in the parking lot of the Arenac County Road Commission.

And last year, when the derby returned the festive atmosphere associated with fishing in the river to Omer, one of the goals for the future was for the event to return to a weekend long festival. Sheeder says that due to a late start in planning for this year that came from the committee not being able to contact the group that operated last year’s tournament, a lot of new events and activities weren’t added, but the future is still looking bright.

“We’ve already talked about what we want to do next year. … They used to have some kind of races with outhouses and stuff like that when they used to have the festival,” Sheeder said. “But that’s down the road . … We have some really great ideas for next year.”

Children will have one new attraction, though.

“We’re going to have a pool out there with floating Easter eggs in it,” Sheeder said, adding certain eggs will contain prizes for the children.

The Ye Olde Courthouse in Omer will also be open during the day, Sproule said, and patrons will be able to stop in for hot dogs and chili.

The payout for the heaviest fish will be $300 if at least 100 individuals participate in the derby. For more information, call 989-654-2700.

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