Have a hankering for a good old fashioned smelt fry? Then check out the Kenyon Volunteer Fire Department’s Annual Smelt Feed being held this coming Saturday, May 1st. As this area’s oldest and biggest charity smelt feed, the Kenyon event could be one of the last chances this year to sample this unusual springtime delicacy.
Once a widely popular fish in areas stretching from Minnesota to Maine, smelt were often dipped or seined by sportsmen using nets from tributaries throughout the Great Lakes region. The spawning fish on their “smelt run,” as it was commonly known, no longer appear in the same numbers as they once did back during the ‘70s and ‘80s.
While several theories exist as to the disappearance of the Great Lakes smelt, most folks agree the heyday for this springtime fishing ritual appears to have come and gone…at least for now. Today, most smelt gathered in quantity are purchased through commercial fishing operations.
The Kenyon smelt feed has a reputation for attracting large crowds from throughout southern Minnesota so plan accordingly by getting there early. Kenyon is located within an hour’s drive of Rochester, Mankato and most areas of the Twin Cities. I urge you to come out and support my hometown fire department and their continuing effort to keep the smelt eating tradition alive.