#33 Walleye Festival, Findlay, IL, July 31, 2010
A fresh made-to-order Walleye Sandwich. After a recent string of disappointments, I finally found a festival featuring its theme ingredient. The walleye was perfectly cooked to a perfect golden brown, while the fish was moist and flavorful. The simplicity is genius and I enjoyed every bite.
The fish were flying this fateful day. These fryers were packed to the gills (sorry) with fish the entire afternoon. Normally, the walleye are caught in nearby Lake Shelbyville. Unfortunately there was not a fisherman living at the lake pulling in walleye 24/7 to provide the hundreds of pounds of fish to feed the masses. Instead the fish was brought in, but it put a filet-o-fish to shame.
I ventured away from the fish tent, and found some vendors to my liking. Nothing typifies festival food better than taking a perfectly good food, and then battering and deep frying it. Meet the deep fried peanut butter jelly sandwich. I may need to start a new food group for this one. What's not to like about a crispy crust with sweet jelly and creamy peanut butter oozing out? I like a toasted peanut butter sandwich now and then, but I may never have a pbj without deep frying it ever again.
The deep fried trend continued. This is a deep fried cheeseburger. They actually cook it with all of the toppings already inside. It was good, but couldn't compare with the pbj. It essentially tasted like a White Castle slider if you reheated and ate it the next day (Am I the only one who has done that?). The vendor was so impressed with my appetite that he threw in the fried oreos for free. Fried oreos are very sweet and delicious, but the frying process makes for soggy cookie crusts. You know it's good when they serve the food atop a napkin.
Go to a festival anywhere in the Mid-West, and someone somewhere will be dragging a man in a weighted sled by tractor for recreation. Walleye Festival featured a tractor pull, but bucking tradition, used garden tractors instead of the usual farm type. I'll never truly understand it, but I did enjoy the fact these garden tractors were named (Especially the Hillbilly Deluxe). Sweet rides.
Festive Trinket of the Week: This picture may confuse the scale, but this little fishing stool is very small. Notice the pack of baseball cards (featuring the polarizing Tony LaRussa) is almost the width of the seat. I did insist that the slightly more robust vendor sit on the stool as a testimonial before my purchase. The stool legs bowed, and I think I heard it cry, but it prevailed in the end. Maybe not the silliest item of the year, but one I will actually use at some point hopefully.
Video of the Week: Apparently I have lost my camera, and the phone I used for pictures didn't record the video sound very well. This was supposed to be the Misdemeanor Band playing "Boot Scootin' Boogie", and it was glorious. This will be fixed. Until then, enjoy the world's largest walleye (Walleye Willie) with poignant commentary. This actually is the country's largest walleye according to this site, although there is debate as to which city is the real Walleye Capital of the Country.
Did you know that walleye are actually carnivorous and eat other fish? Serves them right to be battered and fried to golden brown and delicious. As always, here is a link for all the walleye information anyone in their land loving mind may want to know. Once you have learned more about your potential catch, then why not watch an instructional video on how best to catch them? Well now that you know how to catch them, might as well learn how to properly clean them. I will have to warn you that this video is not for the faint of heart, as it depicts how to filet the fish with all sound effects included. If you still watched that video, then maybe now is a good time to remind you of my love for mascots. If you are ever in Toledo, Ohio you can have this slightly creepy little bugger at your next birthday party. I know what you want, and what you want is a hand painted wooden hillbilly walleye welcome sign but want to spend under $400. So, here you go! Did you know that there is a club dedicated to all things walleye in a town near you? Finally, this picture made me laugh for some reason, and yes "Walleye Central" has a Facebook page.
The Walleye Festival may have been the best festival I have attended since the Turkey Festival last month. I had the pleasure of some great table mates from nearby Decatur, IL who appreciated the subtle nuances of deep fried foods. As I was eating my fish sandwich, we began discussing my somewhat unrealistic goals for this site and other ventures when she mentioned the term BHAG. Having been to many leadership conferences in the past, she explained the acronym stood for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Here is one of the creators providing some leadership conference drivel. Although I hate these canned conferences, I do agree with setting high goals. Today they may seem unrealistic and silly, but hopefully someday the thought changes to, "There is no reason I CAN'T achieve these goals". I have always believed that everything is possible, and your only limitation is your own imagination.