Allegan, Michigan, a town of about 5,000 people, will take you back to the 1940s. Some of the architecture reminds me of Madison, although this town is relatively small.
USA Today rated the Allegan County Fair as the best county fair in Michigan. I enjoyed my visit there to the extent I may go back. Besides the naturally attractive boardwalk along the Kalamazoo River, I discovered something few visitors will ever find.
The purpose of my trip was to visit friends and participate in a fun birthday party for 2-year-old Sineya Contreraz. I was also excited to see her niece Solene, about three months older.
I was a guest of Tonya King, the babies’ grandmother, and her 13-year-old daughter Lilly. The three of us met for dinner Friday afternoon at the unique Schaendorf Brewing Company. They have been concocting their own brew at this location since the late 1800s.
Owned by second-generation dairy farmers, the meals on the menu come straight from the farm. I enjoyed a delicious, medium rare, 16-ounce ribeye. I instructed our waitress to bring me their best-selling lager. It was mighty fine.
Lilly was my tour guide to the town boardwalk where we topped off our great meal with ice cream.
We came upon three ladies painting the scenery from across the river. They were all talented artists. Above us and crossing the river were two 600-foot zip lines. A little further, a splash park and playground for children.
The boardwalk also features a stage with live music, most often on Friday evenings. Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish put on quite a show later in the evening.
Adjacent to the playground was a pier with a young man fishing. Lilly and I stood above him on a footbridge and engaged in conversation.
This fellow was quite outgoing and liked talking about fishing. I noticed him as one of the reasons 10% of fishermen catch 90% of the fish. His line appeared to be 14-pound test. On the business end, he had a No. 4 split shot snug against a large snap/swivel connected to a No. 2 hooks. He was using live nightcrawlers for bait under a bobber.
On every cast, his bobber would go under. Yet not once did he catch a fish. If you don’t fish, let me explain. The hardware he was using was too big and the snap/swivel unnecessary. I suggested he snap on a size 8 hook while Lilly asked him why he did time as a felon. Yes, it was quite an interesting conversation.
The bobber goes under again, and this time our angler connects. When he reeled the fish in, it caught my attention. I asked him to raise the fish up to me for closer inspection. This fish and the next one he caught were redear. I’m guessing the bait stealers were as well.
What makes my discovery so interesting is I’ve read the northernmost range for redear in the midwest is the Indiana/Michigan line. Allegan is about 25 miles south of Holland.
The Allegan County Fair features Sam Hunt, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jimmy Allen, and while this venue is sure to be fun, I can’t wait to try my luck with the Kalamazoo redear.