PORTAGE | The smell of grilled bratwurst and hamburgers wafted through the air at Countryside Park as a ukulele band performed "Tiny Bubbles" and "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" at the Portage Community Historical Society’s summer festival Saturday. The event commemorated the organization's 25th anniversary.
The free event featured vendors selling crocheted dish towels, artificial flower arrangements and candle holders; kids games; vintage and classic cars; a watermelon eating contest; silent auction; live entertainment; and a fishing derby for children.
Daniel Biesboer, 15, of Portage, came out with his family to cast a line or two during the derby, and he was in the lead as the contest neared its end.
“I caught a bluegill and it was 6½ inches. My family wanted to fish today so I came, but I really don’t fish much,” he said.
His mother, Barbara Biesboer, said the event was a way to spend the day together so they decided to do some fishing with Daniel’s uncle.
“My brother has throat cancer and we all wanted to get out for the day to have a good time,” she said.
Jim Franzen, maintenance supervisor for the Portage Parks Department, said a tractor on loan from Ken Lorenz, a tractor collector, was essential for the hay rides that took guests throughout the park’s 16 acres.
“We’ve had a really good turnout this year, better than before,” Franzen said.
Wanda Samuelson, board member with the Portage Historical Society, said the event is a great way to celebrate Portage’s heritage because guests can tour the Trager home and the Alton Goin Museum, both located at Countryside Park.
“We want to promote the history of the Portage community. It was a wonderful farming and railroad community and the Native Americans settled here and we have a lot to be proud of,” Samuelson said.
Former Mayor and Portage Historical Society volunteer Olga Velazquez led groups through the Trager home.
“Portage is a relatively new city — 45 years old, but we have a long history and it is important to preserve our history,” she said.