Celebrating smelt in Duluth

After our civilization disappears and the planet eventually recovers and its new inhabitants dig to learn more about the species that once roamed the globe, maybe they’ll find this:

It was a smelt festival in Duluth, which celebrates the small fish that people used to eat fresh from roadside stands.

The smelt with the Prince theme?

“Last year I was inspired because there was a Smelt Queen and I thought there should be a Prince Smelt,” Becca DeBoer told the Duluth News Tribune, calling it an homage to the singer.

Would that violate the law the Minnesota Legislature is kicking around to protect the likeness of Prince?

  • Gary F

    I could think of many places in Duluth that I could drink alcohol and be better entertained than a Smelt Parade.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    When smelt get mentioned I immediately think of the group Conga Se Menne from the U.P. of Michigan. The name of their first CD is “Finnish Reggae and other Sauna Beats”. There are a couple of songs on that disc that mention smelt. (I first learned of the group and their music on MPR.)

  • lindblomeagles

    True story here. My mother, who raised my 4 siblings and I by herself, used to buy bags and bags of smelts from the grocery store in my hometown, Chicago, Illinois. She would fry several batches of them on top of the stove for dinner. Back then, and this was the 70s and 80s, smelts were cheaper than most fish selections, such as Perch, Catfish, Snapper, and Trout. Plus, the fry contained minimal bones, preventing any one of us from choking on our tasty meal. Smelts had a very bland taste, but we’d get barbecue sauce, mustard, and ketchup out of the fridge to dress them up a bit. They were also an important source of protein when chicken, beef, and pork sold at higher prices, especially during the summer. Alas, it seems Smelts have been replaced by Tilapia, a much bigger, and not bony, cheap fish too. Unlike smelts, Tilapia seems to be always baked or steamed. I haven’t seen anybody fry Tilapia.

  • CHS

    Smelting is really high on my bucket list, and has only grown higher ever since Bob started writing about it years ago. Alas I missed the run this year because I couldn’t plan any time off work this spring due to a project, and by the time I had free time it was over. Missed it by a week. Maybe next year…