LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Trout-a-rama? Not what it used to be

To the editor:

I would first like to acknowledge that the effort put into the 2011 Trout-a-rama parade was enjoyable and memorable. I was tickled as I watched the Baldwin Lumber Company band perform, as I was never aware the Lumber Company was full of so many talented musicians!

I also enjoyed checking out the vintage cars. It’s always heartwarming to see our youth being involved in positive venues and being encouraged to do good things.

However, as a native of Lake County for almost 30 years, I am highly disappointed and embarrassed at what our famous Trout-a-rama has become in the more recent years. After observing the steady decline over the past seven years, this year, while working my own booth, I saw first hand, the overall lack of excitement and enthusiasm in the atmosphere.

As a kid, I remember theme rides like the “Gravitron” and the “Salt and Pepper Shaker”. I remember how the games were fun and the prizes were worth winning. I remembered throwing balls to dunk the clown in the water tank. The food was great and the beer tent was the extra plus for those who were of age. There was something interesting for ALL ages!

In 2011, that was not the case. The first thing I noticed was that there were a total of five rides, a slide, and a fun house. Those rides also appeared to be the same rides that were being used when I rode as a kid…more than twenty years ago. They appeared unkempt, rusty, and unsafe. And what happened to the rides for the older kids and teens?

Then, as if it wasn’t bad enough that rides were costing $3 - $4 per ride, parents were being encouraged to buy $15 wristbands for each of their children to ride for several hours. Problem is, there weren’t enough rides to sustain anyone for more than fifteen minutes before they would have to start repeating rides again. Then, for a child beyond the age of ten, there were no real rides at all. Most of the food was greasy, overpriced, and mediocre, at best. Furthermore, many vendors did not help matters by displaying frowning faces and lack of enthusiasm to really sell anything at all.

My biggest complaint is that the thing being highlighted most over the recent years has been the “beer tent.” I believe that so much time is now being invested into getting the tent ready for drinking and gambling, we have really lost sight of the true meaning of Trout-a-rama. Why is it still being called Trout-a-rama anyway? I haven’t seen a thing to do with a “trout” in a long time.

Where’s the food booth serving smoked trout or trout dinners and giving out information about fishing and the history of Trout-a-rama for tourists visiting the area?

I think that the planning committee needs to get their act together and either rename it or revisit what Trout-a-rama is really supposed to be about. We continue to do our citizens a disservice by putting all the effort into making the beer tent a success and taking away what used to be a family oriented event, placing more value on drinking and gambling to make extra money.

A few shabby games, rides, and food were available at extremely high prices to local families who are already living in the poorest county in Michigan. Meanwhile, tenured officials use the profits to their own advantage.

Thus, the residents of Lake County continue to receive substandard services and are being forced to deal with substandard conditions because the few people who have the financial power continue to be greedy and use the cheapest means to get the most quantity, while quality is no longer important.

When is our community going to get up to standard with the rest of the world?

Kilah King