EagleHerald News Manager

MENOMINEE COUNTY—The West Shore Fishing Museum’s annual Ice Cream Social planned for this coming Sunday is just one of several events that had to be canceled because of rising COVID-19 cases in the area.

“While we will miss celebrating the end of summer with our many friends, it is more important to us to avoid a COVID-19-spreading event,” said Noreen Johnson of the West Shore Fishing Museum and Bailey Property Preservation Association Inc. (BPPA).

The museum will still be open Sunday as part of its regular seasonal schedule; it will also hold a raffle drawing at 3 p.m. In addition to the raffle drawing, the Ice Cream Social usually features food and live music and is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the museum. Drawing approximately 750 people in recent years, it has netted the museum up to $3,000 in donations.

Canceling the Ice Cream Social will impact the nonprofit more than usual this year with the museum busy having a 1,564-square-foot Welcome Center built as an addition to the gift shop already on the museum’s property. The new building will house a display and meeting space and two unisex restrooms, as well as an office and a place for archival storage and research.

Over the last five or six years, the museum has collected $50,000 in donations, which included several large anonymous sums. This funding paid for a septic system and the foundation and floor work, which were completed in 2019. Utilities for the Welcome Center building are also in place. Menominee County Parks provided some assistance on the electrical service since the museum property is owned by the county park system.

The donations from the end-of-season fundraiser would have gone toward the museum’s first goal of $80,000, which will allow for construction of the building. Volunteers will begin to work on some of the interior work once construction is finished. Afterward, the staff at the museum hope to get grants to help furnish and equip the building. Because of the inflated cost of building materials, Johnson said, “The cost of the next phase was double what we expected when we put bids out last spring, putting the brakes on the construction for now.”

The expected total of the project is $150,000. Given the uncertainty of donations it will receive and the price of building materials, the museum is unsure when the project will be finished.

West Shore Fishing Museum displays one of the most complete collections of commercial fishing boats and equipment in the region. A stop on the Great Lakes Heritage Fishing Trail, it is among the most important commercial fishing museums in Michigan. In addition to fishing displays, visitors can enjoy a Victorian home, nature trails and gardens and grounds. This hidden gem is tucked in the woods on the north end of Bailey Park on M-35. There is no charge for admission, but visitors may make a donation.

Donations of any amount can be sent to Bailey Property Preservation Association, Inc. (BPPA) in care of Patricia Cheski, N2490 M-35, Menominee, MI, 49858.

The funds collected from the Ice Cream Social, as well as other fundraisers throughout the season, donations and annual memberships—not to mention the help from its volunteers in the BPPA—keep the all-volunteer organization up and running. BPPA, a nonprofit volunteer organization, develops and operates the West Shore Fishing Museum.

The BPPA is always looking for more volunteers. Current volunteers include retired people, mostly people in their 80s, with the oldest volunteer being 90 years old. These volunteers work Wednesdays to develop and maintain the museum and Saturdays and Sundays during the summer to greet and guide visitors through the museum grounds.