Friday, September 13 was not an unlucky day for the hundreds of guests who attended the Charles A. Conklin Sons of the American Legion Squadron 28 annual Salmon Boil Dinner in downtown Grand Haven, MI. The Dinner is part of the Grand Haven, MI Visitors Bureau annual Salmon Fest event. Past SAL Squadron 28 Commander and charter Captain, Bill “Willis” Kerridge suggested the Salmon Boil/Fest idea to the Grand Haven Visitors Bureau more than a decade ago due to the proximity of Lake Michigan to Grand Haven, SAL Squadron 28 joins forces with Post 28 Legionnaires, Auxiliary, and Riders in preparing and serving salmon dinners to guests, many of whom travel to Grand Haven from around the Midwest. Past SAL Squadron 28 Commander and current Adjutant, Paul Kubicek says “preparation of dinners begins early morning day-of-the-event.” At sunrise, Post 28 Legionnaires and SAL Squadron 28 volunteers filet more than 200 pounds of salmon. Post 28 family unit volunteers then peel onions and potatoes and shuck fresh corn. As serving time approaches, the aroma of tasty seafood fills the air and the line for salmon dinner tickets grows. Dinner includes salmon, potatoes, onions, corn-on-the-cob, and roll.
“We gear the Salmon Boil event toward families and adults, which many come back each year,” notes past Post 28 SAL Squadron Commander, Phil Young. While guests enjoy their dinners, live music fills the Salmon Boil Dinner tent. Clean-up is a team effort as volunteers celebrate a successful Salmon Boil event. SAL Squadron 28 donates proceeds from the Salmon Boil Dinner event to charities and American Legion programs including Wilwin at Cygnet Cove, Fisher House Michigan, Boys and Girls State, Grand Rapids Veterans Home, community pantries, and homeless veterans.
Young emphasizes that “spouses of family unit members play a big part in making the event successful each year.” Post 28 Commander, Janet E. Fonger, past Post 28 Commander, Chris Jarvis and their spouses can be seen working in the serving line. Kubicek summed up the Salmon Boil Dinner event by adding, “we work together as a family and team at Post 28 in raising proceeds to assist veterans, veterans’ families, and those in need within our community.”
The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 28 annual Salmon Boil Dinner is a great example of how SAL Squadrons can build positive alliances with their local communities and host themed events based around local industry (e.g.,agriculture and fishing)