Sister Bay hosts 20th annual Marina Fest

This year’s Marina Fest takes place Aug. 31. Photo by Len Villano.

Twenty years ago Sister Bay locals Fuzzy Sunstrom, Cal Lundquist, and Jack Bunda decided to throw a ‘thank you’ to the boating community after the building of Sister Bay’s marina.

“The matter of building that marina was controversial,” says Sharon Doersching. “That was a lot of money, but by Fourth of July all the slips were full.” A party was in order, and was such a success it became an annual event.

“I came on board in 1994, after I was elected to the Sister Bay Village Board. I simply inherited Marina Fest,” laughs Doerching. In the 18 years she’s been involved (she missed one year while traveling overseas), Doerching has come to know a handful of key community members that make the event a success each year: “Jack [Bunda] directed the Classic Wooden Boat Show until his death in 2011. Now his son Kenon Bunda and daughter Margo Bunda Johnson direct the show. Last year Sister Bay dedicated a replica of a lighthouse at the marina to him.”

Today, Shane Solomen, a member of the Sister Bay Village Board; Steve Mann, Sister Bay Parks Property Manager and former Sister Bay Marina Manager; John Close, Marina Committee Chairman; and Wendy Tanzel, current Sister Bay Marina Manager, coordinate the festival that attracts locals and tourists alike.

“Since it started it has grown, but not grown out of being a small town festival,” says Doersching. “Everything takes place in one spot – all at Marina Park. It has grown, but stayed the same. We are committed to creating a family festival, family fun that runs until 8 am with the pancake breakfast until 10:30 pm with the last strands of music.”

Since the festival’s inception Replica, a pop/rock band from Green Bay has performed. Formerly know as After Dark, the band features local musician Paul Lent.

Children’s Boat Building is a popular activity at Marina Fest. Photo by Len Villano.

The festival has also included Children’s Boat Building sponsored and manned by The Lion’s Club since the beginning. “We have 250 tickets we sell the day of,” says Doersching, “it’s like Packers tickets, people line up down the block.”

For 18 years the festival has featured the Water Board Warriors, a water ski team from Green Bay. “It’s as good as Tommy Bartlett in the Dells,” says Doersching.

The event also includes a nautical flea market, horse and wagon rides, decorated boats in the harbor, and fireworks.

“Sister Bay is the place to be Labor Day weekend,” says Doersching. “And all of this is volunteers and volunteer organizations that sponsor fundraising activities – no commercial activities take place – except our marina rental organizations.”

A few of the clubs and organizations sponsoring events include the Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Department, Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Library, Northern Door Kiwanis Club, Sister Bay Historical Society, Sister Bay Teen Center, United Way, Door County Power Squadron, and more.

The festival is largely weather dependent, but Doercsching is pretty confident the sun will shine. “I tell people to play their wedding for the Saturday of Labor Day weekend,” she laughs, “we’ve only had two years where there was bad weather.”

The 20th annual Marina Fest takes place Aug. 31 at Sister Bay Marina. For more information call 920.854.4457.

2013 Marina Fest Schedule of Events

8 – 10 am: Pancake Breakfast

8 am: Nautical Flea Market

10 am – 4 pm: Used Book Sale

10 am – 2 pm: River City Six performs

10 am – 2 pm: Horse and wagon rides

10 am – 4 pm: Children’s Boat Building

10 am – 4 pm: Children’s games

10 am – 4 pm: Demonstrations of Kahlenberg Steam Engine

12:30 pm: Dingy Races (report to waterski launch)

2 pm: Water Board Warriors Water Ski Show

4 – 10 pm: Replica performs

7 pm: Sunset, live music, and fireworks cruise (call 920.421.4442)

Dusk: Decorated boats in harbor

8:30 pm: Fireworks