Food favorites at Brown Trout

ALPENA – Near the Michigan Brown Trout Festival’s small tent, there are a few food vendor wagons serving up festival-goer favorites.

One trailer sells a variety of dishes, from hot dogs to shrimp, while another sells snacks and sweets. On Tuesday afternoon, a handful of people had come out to brave the wind gusts and unseasonably cool temperatures. A few of them talked about what they were eating, and what they like about festival food.

Carl Kelly, Thunder Bay Walleye Club member, said the high wind and waves kept all but the most avid anglers off Thunder Bay. He was volunteering to help with the weigh-in and had time to take a break, so he ordered a plate of nachos. It was his first chance to eat at the festival this year.

Sitting nearby, Chuck Oliver, Bobie Jo Craner and Donna Miller were enjoying their food. Oliver was having his favorite, a hot dog, and Craner had the same with a side of french fries.

“It’s comfort food, it’s good,” she said.

Meanwhile, Miller ate an ice cream cone, despite the cool air. She enjoys getting to eat outside, and doesn’t have many chances to get ice cream cones.

Inside one of the food wagons, Kristin Werth and Joann Martinson took a break from selling sweet snacks. The two are selling more ice cream than they expected, Martinson said, pointing out a trio who had bought their own cones. Along with ice cream, they’re selling cotton candy, popcorn and elephant ears. The thin, fried and cinnamon-sugary dough is by far a crowd favorite.

“That’s all we have here, but the elephant ears are definitely a big request,” Werth said.

Martinson agreed.

“It’s that sweet dough, you only get it on special occasions,” she said.

Later, when a larger crowd had gathered, Courtney Helinski meticulously picked the diced tomato from a chicken wrap – “I don’t like tomatoes,” she said – and rolled the tortilla back together.

“The chicken wrap is good, by the way,” she said.

Helinski, who lives in Onaway and is visiting grandparents Kathie and AJ Mills, agreed with Werth and Martinson on elephant ears. She’s no stranger to fair food, and had nothing but good things to say about them.

“They’re delicious and fried and covered in sugar, how can you not love them,” she said.

There’s another favorite among Michigan Brown Trout Festival committee members, board President Peggy Donakowski said. Each year, Chuck Marcinkiewicz takes a donated fish and smokes it for the board. As the band 3’z a Crowd played, members feasted on their picnic, including freshly smoked salmon fillets.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at