The Importance (& Fun) of Sturgeon Fest

I could start this short editorial about how amazing it feels to be part of a project that is restoring a breeding population of Lake Sturgeon to the Milwaukee River for the first time since the late 1800’s.  That would be a good beginning.

Or, I could easily speak about the good feelings we all get when we help the environment through positive activities, such as repairing the damage mistakenly, and unintentional, done by generations long passed.  That would be honest.

Perhaps, I could tell the story about the hopes that go into the season of sturgeon rearing which begins in the spring, continues through hours of love and dedication by the sturgeon rearing volunteers at Riveredge, and finishes with a bittersweet release the last Saturday in September.  That couldn’t be more true.

But for me, and my family, the “Return the Sturgeon” restoration project at Riveredge Nature Center IS all those things and so much more.  There’s just something about these ‘so ugly they’re ridiculously cute’ fish.  There’s something about the way that baby fish wiggles its nose at you from its personal ice cream bucket; just something about the way it swishes its tail before it disappears into the depths of Lake Michigan that just touches me in the depth of my gut.  There’s just something about knowing you are part of releasing a prehistoric fish that has a good chance of continuing to live and thrive in Lake Michigan when your great-great grandchildren play on its shores decades from now.

For those that have been to Sturgeon Fest, the celebration of the release of over 1,000 of this year’s baby Lake Sturgeon, you can relate.  For those of you who haven’t take the chance yet, I encourage you to find the time to come.

Sturgeon Fest is arriving quickly on Saturday, September 27th from 11 am – 3 pm at Lakeshore State Park.  It’s a free community festival (with free parking) – including lots of hands-on activities for adults and kids alike, kayaking, food, and, of course, the sturgeon release.  It’s an experience for all ages and all stages of life.  And, certainly, one that you are unlikely to forget.

To learn more about Sturgeon Fest this year, just visit the website.  You can even pre-reserve a sturgeon to release online.  The $10 donation helps support Riveredge Nature Center’s contribution to this 25-year restoration project.

P.S. – the baby sturgeon will be tagged by the DNR at Riveredge this coming Monday or Tuesday.  These tags (similar to the microchips we put in our pets) help researchers track the fish.  It’s quite a site.  If you are interested in watching, give Riveredge a call at 262-375-2715 for more information.

I hope to see you at Sturgeon Fest!  I’ll be there with my family, releasing those prehistoric fish, and enjoying every minute of it.

Jessica Jens, Executive Director

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