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Smelt Festival file photos
Smelt Festival file photos

Smelt Fest is back!

Wed, Apr 19th 2023 12:30 pm

Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce: Growing Business & Community

By Jennifer Pauly

Smelt in Lewiston.

Who knew that the Lewiston community would be known for a tiny fish that is netted only a few weeks out of the year.

Our office is flooded with phone calls throughout spring with conversations always starting with the topic of smelt, and if the “smelt are running.” Most of the time, Suzanne and I yell across the room to each other asking if the other knows if they are running yet in the river. We generally give a call to our board member, outdoor specialist and charter captain Frank Campbell, to find out. We have also been known to drive down to the docks, finding a few fishermen and asking if they have started to net any of the coveted fish.

This is also the time of year when we receive the phone calls on if the traditional first festival of the season, the Smelt Festival, is happening. Over the past 10 years, we have dealt with rain, snow, wind, mud and a few years of COVID when the first week of May comes around. The last festival was held in 2019.

The answer has been “we are not sure” – but this year we have a definitive date!

We are excited to find a partner with The Griffon Brewery & Gastropub (115 S. Water St., Lewiston) to host the next Smelt Festival on Friday, May 26, beginning at 5 p.m.

Ken Scibetta, co-owner of The Griffon, has ceremoniously been hailed as “The Smelt King,” for the past decade, so it was a natural fit! Moving the event back a few weeks gives us a chance for a better weather outcome – and a location that overlooks the Niagara River that can withstand the weather elements!

Live music (The Brothers of Invention will play on the patio), food, beverages and smelt (at a nominal cost) will all be a part of the event.

We would not be able to host the festival again without the support of Anthony DiMino and DiMino Lewiston Tops Market. Anthony assists us each year in sourcing and purchasing the smelt.

Proceeds from the festival will also benefit the Niagara River Anglers Pen Project in hopes of a new aquaculture project in Youngstown.

The Chamber of Commerce strength is convening people together to create positive change and growth in the community. We are excited about this collaboration with The Griffon, DiMino Tops, the Chamber and the fishing industry to continue an event that has a long tradition in Lewiston.

More details on the Smelt Festival can be found online at www.NiagaraRiverRegion.com.

We hope you join us for the traditional “first festival of the season,” and continue the fascination with smelt – the “fries with eyes.”

Lewiston never SMELT so good!


Smelt Festival 2023

  • Date: Friday, May 26
  • Location: The Griffon Brewery & Gastropub, 115 S. Water St., Lewiston
  • What to expect: Food, beverages, live music with The Brothers of Invention – and, of course, smelt – available for $5

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