Whether or not you are an angler, when asked to name the hot fishing spots in our part of the world the most likely destinations to emerge will be northern Wisconsin, Ontario and Lake Erie. Although Door County has long been on the short list of places to go for Great Lakes offshore (salmon and trout) fishing, even us local angers were a bit taken aback last summer when Bassmaster Magazine published its annual list of the 100 best bass fisheries in the U. S. and named Sturgeon Bay #1!
A proud Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament winner from a past season.
For the past 26 years the Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament has kicked off the Door County fishing season. One of the first tournaments of the year on any of the Great Lakes, this year’s event will be held April 23 – 26. The water temperature will be in the 30s and chunks of ice will still be floating around the harbors. But fisherman from all over the Midwest will flock to Door County to vie for one of the top prizes given to the biggest fish. Last year’s winner weighed in at 24.57 lbs.
Participants in the tournament may fish anywhere along the Door County shoreline. The center of activities will be the Baileys Harbor Fire Station which houses the fish weigh-in station. One of the tournament’s sponsors, Beacon Marine, will put on a boat show there during the weigh-in activities over the long weekend. The Fire/Weigh-in Station will also host a Block Party on Sunday from 10 a.m until 2 pm with live entertainment and food & refreshments leading up to the final awards ceremony.
The fishing is great any time of the year in Door County. Those anglers who show up in April to pursue the majestic Brown Trout enjoy the County at its finest and least crowded.
2 ft. thick slabs of "glowing" ice below Door Bluff Headlands County Park
Mention Door County to a mid-westerner and her first response is likely to involve the amazing scenery – shoreline, bluffs, lighthouses, beautiful forests. But only winter visitors get to see the spectacular ice formations that Lake Michigan and Green Bay give us. Last winter we all heard about the Lake Superior ice caves. Door County has its own answer to those. And while, arguably, less dramatic, they are beautiful, numerous and observable from shore.
One of the most reliable places to witness these dramatic sculptures of nature is the shoreline below Door Bluff Headlands County Park. This park occupies the extreme northeast point of land on the Peninsula. Be aware that getting to the shore from the parking area requires a bit of a scramble down the “stair steps” of the escarpment to the ice below.
Another spot that offers great winter ice is Door County’s most popular lighthouse, Cana Island. The table rock shoals surrounding the island work together with Lake Michigan winds to stack and accumulate slabs of ice that are then enhanced by the spray off the Lake. The natural thawing/freezing cycles further shape the assemblages into fantastic forms.
Your humble Innkeeper & a friend paddling among Peninsula Park's bergs shortly after the thaw last May
More ice sculptures can be found along the miles of shoreline off Peninsula State Park. Towers of ice often build near Welckers Point or Horseshoe Island – the latter observable from Eagle Tower. A fascinating aspect of Door County’s shore ice is the cobalt blue glow that seems to emanate from within – almost as if they contain a powered light source.
Baileys Harbor‘s 2nd annual Winter Carnival starts off on Friday, February 6th with the band, Dead Horses, playing at Door County Brewing. You can enjoy some of their wonderful, unique brews as the band plays from 7 until 9 that evening.
On Saturday, the 7th, you can start your morning with the Ridges Sanctuary’s pancake breakfast at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall from 9 – 11 a.m. But the weekend’s main activities take place on Kangaroo Lake with the Door County Pond Hockey Tournament beginning at 8 a .m. and going until a victor is declared sometime in the late afternoon. Also at Kangaroo Lake are the radar speed runs for snowmobiles, ATVs or any other motorized vehicle that can navigate the ice. $5 buys all the speed runs your machine can handle – spectating is free. A free Door County Trolley will be shuttling between the Town Hall and Kangaroo Lake from 10 until 3.
There will be more live music on Saturday afternoon with Dirty Deuce playing in the tent while brats, hot dogs, chili and hot drinks are served. Visit the snow bar for adult drinks. Even more live music happens that evening as Door County Brewing hosts Eric Lambert and Friends from 7 – 9 p.m.
On Sunday the Baileys Harbor Farm Market will have a rare winter opening from 10 until 2. Finally, there will be a free Door Shakespeare performance at Door County Brewing beginning at 1 p.m. Their merry troop will perform “Slings and Arrows” a collection of love-related scenes from the Bard.
Take advantage of the Blacksmith Inn on the Shore’s “Stay a Bit Longer” special: Stay 3 consecutive nights and one of them (a weeknight) will be free.
On Friday night we enjoyed a concert at the Door Community Auditorium by one of our favorite performing artists, Jeff Tweedy. Best known as the songwriter and frontman for the band, WILCO, Mr. Tweedy gave us a delicious solo sampling from his very large body of work dating back over the last 2 decades.
As I sat listening I couldn’t help but feel amazed at the vast number of music and arts offerings we have in, what is essentially, a very rural area. A quick glance at today’s Peninsula Pulse list of live music events tells me that I can catch the Fairland Family Bluegrass Band at a church service, the Nicks (a favorite local jam band) on the water at the Gordon Lodge, the Dave Steffen Band (blues) at Stone Harbor and Taj Weekes (reggae) at the Peg Egan Performing Arts Center. These are just what catches my eye from among the 15 – 20 other music performances going on today. And most are free! (I write this on a Sunday which has fewer concerts than Fridays and Saturdays)
The Communities of Door County have coordinated their concert schedules so that you can catch a free concert somewhere in the area every night of the week during the summer and early fall – Sundays in Egg Harbor, Wednesdays in Sister Bay, Fridays in Baileys Harbor, etc… And these are all in family-friendly park settings.
All of us at the Blacksmith Inn On The Shore are music lovers and enjoy helping our guests connect with the entertainment that they love. Before you visit you might want to check out ppulse.com for their daily schedules. The websites for the individual Door County villages will list their free concerts. And you can see what is playing at the Door Community Auditorium and the Peg Egan Performing Arts Center, respectively, at: dcauditorium.com and theartofmusiclive.com.
So come on up and enjoy the Door County music scene with us!
It is at this time of the year that we in Door County feel suddenly overwhelmed by the arts, both performing and visual. Granted: We are fortunate enough to live in the midst of many talented people who share their art with us every day of the year. But when late June rolls around Door County comes alive with what those folks have been creating and saving for us since last Fall!
The most obvious of these riches is the season opening of two of our professional theater companies: Peninsula Players and American Folklore Theatre. The “Players” opening show this year is the world premiere of a comedy entitled “Making God Laugh”. Although I’ve yet to see it I’ve been hearing rave reviews from many Inn guests and friends who have.
American Folklore Theatre’s stage in the woods of Peninsula Park is hosting 2 old friends and one newcomer. The troupe is reprising its venerated “Lumberjacks in Love” and its smash hit from the last two Fall seasons: “Guys and Does”. The brand new creation is “Bing! The Cherry Musical”. I can’t wait to take in a performance of this world premiere as staged by these professionally silly sentimentalists!
We are also just two weeks away from the opening of Door Shakespeare’s season. This year’s schedule rotates between performances of the Bard’s Twelfth Night and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. You owe it to yourself to experience one of Door Shakespeare’s productions in the forest setting of Lawrence University’s Bjorklunden estate outside of Baileys Harbor (you can walk or bike there from the Inn!).
I’ll talk more about Door County’s hyperactive Summer arts scene in future posts. Suffice it to say that, with the three professional theater companies plus all of the other acting, music, other performance and visual arts offerings, we truly have an embarrassment of riches here from June through October.
I hope to see you in the audience this Summer!
Spring is always a magic time here in Door County. This year, in particular, we are feeling very grateful for the awakening taking place outside the door of the Blacksmith Inn On The Shore. This “awakening” has been very slow to arrive. Last week I ran into a naturalist friend who pointed out that this year our spring is three weeks behind the “normal”. In contrast last year spring was three weeks ahead of norm. So, with last year as a point of reference, we are six weeks behind!
This morning as I stepped outside with our dogs, Esme and Lily, I was serenaded by two goldfinches sitting in one of the serviceberry trees next to the Harbor House. The song was so beautiful and I listened so long and intently that the dogs finally had to remind me that we were outside for their morning “business” and not for my auditory pleasure.
The swale between the Blacksmith Inn and the beach is loaded with all species if birds just singing their hearts out. At night the chorus of spring peepers swells to a sometimes almost deafening level before diminishing to the normal decibels required for frog/toad romance.
Almost every Blacksmith Inn guest this week has commented on the “entertainment” just outside their door. As we approach the Memorial Day weekend we are appreciative of the little slice of paradise we have here in Baileys Harbor. And we are so happy that we get to share it with so many others who treasure it for what it is.