NORTHPORT — Boiled redskins, corn on the cob, rolls, coleslaw, cherry pie, lemonade, beer, wine and freshly caught Maine lobster — or chicken, if lobster isn’t your thing. But mainly lobster.
The 15th annual Lobster Fest truly is the kind of lobster dinner one could get in Maine, said Stefanie Staley, executive director of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, which hosts the event. There’s also a silent auction and music, she said.
Lobster Fest is a fundraiser to help restore and preserve the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. Located at Leelanau State Park in Northport, the landmark earned a spot on the National Register of Historical Places July 19, 1984, according to the register’s website.
In 1850, congress set aside $4,000 to build a lighthouse to mark the entrance into Grand Traverse Bay, the application for historic designation reads. The building was completed in 1853, but reconstructed in a more visible location in 1858.
“We wanted something completely out of the ordinary that would draw people,” Staley said of Lobster Fest’s origins. “I said, ‘Hey, why don’t we do a lobster boil?’ Everybody got excited. We tried it the first year and it worked, tried it the second year and it worked, and we kept going.”
This year’s event takes place Aug. 17. There are 200 tickets available — the cost is $65 for lighthouse members and $75 for non-members — and attendees can choose a 5 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. seating.
Money raised will go toward purchasing materials for a cleaning event by Michigan Cares for Tourism, Staley said. Volunteers will be come to the state park and, at the lighthouse, will paint buildings, install a new playground, clear trails, clean the campground and more, she said.
Lobsters weighing 1.5 pounds are flown in overnight from Maine for the fest and the rest of the food is locally sourced, Staley said. Lobsters start to cook about 20 minutes before the seatings, so they’re ready right away.
“As soon as the lobsters come out, it’s within a minute or two before they get to the tables,” said Mark Thomas, head cook and president of the lighthouse board.
Those new to lobster don’t need to worry, Thomas said. There are instruction sheets for beginners and volunteers will crack the claws and cut the tail — all attendees have to do is pull the meat out, he said.
Anyone interested in watching the cooks work is more than welcome to do so, although spectators have to stay back a distance for safety reasons, Thomas said. Cooking typically starts around noon, he said.
More than 200 lobsters are flown in to go along with the 250 ears of corn and 100 pounds of potatoes that are used, he said.
“Everybody leaves happy, full and good to go,” Thomas said.
For tickets, visit www.mynorthtickets.com/events/Annual-Lobster-Fest-8-17-2019 or call the museum at 231-386-7195.