Port Clinton’s Got Perch, Peach, Pierogi & Polka

As an English major, I admit that a little alliteration in a festival name puts a smile on my face. The Taste of Tremont, the Milan Melon Festival and the Sunbury Sizzle & Sounds are a few smile-worthy festival names I’ve come across.

But they don’t tantalize the tongue nearly as much Port Clinton’s wonderful Perch, Peach, Pierogi & Polka Festival. So wonderfully named, it bears saying again: the Perch, Peach, Pierogi & Polka Festival. The name alone guarantees a fun time.

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Sure, there’s no mystery about what you’re going to find at this festival. There will obviously be perch and pierogi and even a peach dessert. You should probably have already guessed the music selection. But, honestly, the festival is far more than an attempt at assonant showmanship.

The first two items, the perch and peach, celebrate the area’s local food. Perch fishing in Port Clinton is plentiful enough that only locally caught fish is served at the festival. Meanwhile, peaches are important to the region’s history, as they have been harvested and commercially sold on nearby Catawba Island since the 1870s, thanks to perfect growing conditions. They are also some of the most delicious peaches you will find anywhere!

The last two items celebrate the town’s community, whose ancestors ventured forth from Eastern Europe to share their addictive music and ravioli-esque delights. Strong Eastern European roots enhance this region, like so much of Northeast Ohio—you’ll even find a nice halupki (stuffed cabbage) festival a few weeks earlier in nearby Marblehead.

Of course, Clevelanders are fully familiar with Eastern European traditions, pierogi, polka music and perch. So why would someone from this area drive all the way to Port Clinton for what seems like your run-of-the-mill Lenten Friday night at the neighborhood Slovak Club?

I’ll tell you why: because it’s nothing like that at all!

This won’t be an experience of cold, wintery, slush-filled evenings in dark music-less clubs where food is served by winter-worn volunteers in hairnets. No, this festival will be illuminated by warm summer days. You may even be wearing shorts as you enjoy delicious dishes, vibrant music and the company of charming volunteers dressed in brightly colored T-shirts—T-shirts that, of course, read “Perch, Peach, Pierogi & Polka Festival.”

And you’ll probably be buying one just like I did.