Fish Day nixes beer garden but other event planned

Festival organizers cite financial, volunteer concerns; city paves way for Newport Shores, club event in July

A GROUP GATHERED around a newly sanitized table at the first Port Washington beer garden of the year on July 4. They included (from left) Matthew Uselding, Hunter Hellenbrand, Alec Manley, Alex Huebner and Alyssa Dickmann. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Fish Day won’t hold a beer garden in place of its usual festival next Saturday.

General Chairman Bruce Mandersheid said Tuesday that the Fish Day committee last week decided to pass on what it had called a fin-raiser — a beer garden fundraiser so named in keeping with the puns involved in many a Fish Day theme.

Even though Fish Day won’t be holding its festival, Newport Shores restaurant and the Port Lions Club are expected to hold a fish fry at the lakefront on Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18.

The Common Council on Tuesday agreed to allow Newport Shores to sell beer at the Kiwanis pavilion adjoining the restaurant as part of the event. The Lions Club is expected to sell fish, and Newport Shores owner John Weinrich wrote in a letter to the city that he will be donating sales to the club to offset its fundraising losses this year.

The council’s approval was conditional, however, since Weinrich’s indemnification certificate was only dated for July 18. He had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to submit a revised form allowing the extended sales on July 17.

The fact that Weinrich had not clarified the matter before Tuesday’s meeting, coupled with the fact that many of the beer garden sponsors have not been filing complete applications, forcing staff members to spend hours seeking additional information, frustrated officials. 

Unless things change, aldermen warned, the city will not issue permits for events.

“This needs to stop,” Ald. Deb Postl said. “Going forward, we will not be approving things contingent on (completing applications). Unless they get information in accurately and on time ... there is a very real risk things will not be approved in the future.”

“I don’t think we received a complete application from any of them (the beer garden sponsors) initially,” Ald. Dan Benning said. “These events are great things. Our goal is to make these things happen.”

  Mandersheid said the Fish Day Committee made its decision not to hold a beer garden after taking a hard look at the budget and realizing they probably wouldn’t make enough money to justify the expense.

Just the cost of insurance would have eaten up their profits, he said.

The organization also didn’t have enough volunteers to staff the beer garden and handle the extra tasks required due to the coronavirus, Mandersheid added.

Those extra requirements include having separate people serve beverages and collect money and having people wipe down the tables frequently.

“We just didn’t have enough time to pull it together,” Mandersheid said, “so we decided not to pursue it.”

The committee is still looking at other fundraisers, he said, hoping to bring in enough money to help support next year’s Fish Day.

“We’re going to be doing something to raise funds,” Mandersheid said. “We’re still looking at other ideas.”

In the meantime, he said, Fish Day is partnering with the Port Washington Rotary Club to sell beer koozies and collector Fish Day pins.

The koozies and pins will feature the “Fish Day 2020: The One That Got Away” slogan and emblem of a fish slipping off a hook baited with the coronavirus that emblazons the T-shirts that the Rotary Club is selling, Mandersheid said.

“We’re partnering with them,” he said.

The items will be available via the website in the coming days, he said.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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