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Walleye Weekend 2023 in Fond du Lac brings fishing, music, food, fun

Mar 24, 2023

FOND DU LAC – What kicks off summer in Fond du Lac better than the city's largest festival?

Walleye Weekend runs June 9-11 at Lakeside Park, bringing with it another year of fishing, food, music and family fun, all with free admission.

Primarily run by hundreds of volunteers, Walleye Weekend is also the largest fundraiser of the year for several non-profits in the community and helps raise money to support local causes. Last year's event raised more than $230,000, according to Peter Wilke, executive director of Fond du Lac Festivals, the 501(c)(3) non-profit that organizes the festival.

Free shuttles will be available throughout the weekend from Fond du Lac High School and Downtown Fond du Lac, near the Macy Street parking ramp.

Here's what to know about this year's Walleye Weekend.

Walleye Weekend offers competitions galore for festival-goers to participate and watch, from feats of fish to tests of strength.

The 45th annual Mercury National Walleye Tournament takes place June 10-11 at Oven Island, which, as always, benefits walleye conservation on Lake Winnebago and beyond.

A live leaderboard will be available on

The Mercury Marine Family Fishing Tournament gets young fishers together starting at 8 a.m. June 10 for the individual competition and June 11 for the family competition to see who in each age group can catch the heaviest fish. Advanced registration is encouraged at and equipment will not be provided.

More challenges June 10 include the SSM Health Walleye Run/Walk, the High School Home Run Derby, the Strong Man/Woman competition and a bean bag tournament, while June 11 offers a family-friendly bean bag tournament and the Fondy Football Challenge.

The Walleyball Softball Tournament of high school students will run all three days, and a volleyball tournament will kick off at 8 a.m. June 10 and 11.

Food tents across the park will offer anything from burgers and hot dogs to cheese curds and, of course, walleye.

New items this year include chicken skewers at the Fond du Lac Noon Kiwanis booth, a fish wrap at Lakeside Evening Kiwanis, a curd burger at Morning Kiwanis of Fabulous Fond du Lac and mini donuts at Noon Optimist Club of Fond du Lac.

Signature items at other booths include the gyros at Fond du Lac Firefighters Local 400, ice cream sundaes at Hope Lutheran Church, loaded nachos at Knights of Columbus, pizza at Morning Rotary, boneless wings at North Fond du Lac Oriole Nation Booster Club and walking tacos at Fondy Food Pantry.

Three bands have the chance to win a cash prize and more at Walleye Weekend's first-ever battle of the bands, called the Breakout Band Contest.

The contest will be held June 11 on the the Grande Cheese Center Stage on Promen Drive and Main Street, and the winning band will win $500, the Walleye Weekend 2023 "Breakout Band" trophy and the opportunity to perform at Fondue Fest this September and next year's Walleye Weekend.

Tuesday @ 5 will play at noon, Scarlet will play at 1 p.m. and the Seth James Trio will play at 2 p.m.

Fond du Lac events: 9 can't miss events happening this summer, from Walleye Weekend to Fondue Fest

Three main stages will be dotted across the park, with performers lined up throughout each day.

The Mercury Marine Point West Stage, co-sponsored by 107.1 The Bull, will first host country music act Bella Cain at 7 p.m. June 9.

June 10 brings Remington's Ride, Driftwood and 80s-style rock band The Glam Band, while June 11 brings in Time Machine and The Bandits.

The Grande Cheese & 95.1/96.1 The Rock Center Stage starts off the evening of June 9 with '70s and '80s rock party band Rising Phoenix, followed by KISS tribute band Kiss Army.

The lineup June 10 is That 90s Band, D Willy & The Souvenirs and Suzie and the Detonators.

After the Breakout Band Contest June 11, Verona Grove will finish out the Grande stage at 3 p.m.

The Holiday Automotive East Stage, with Sunny 97.7, will bring in Journey tribute band Separate Ways, then Hip Pocket on June 9. Boomboxx, 52nd Street and Jeremiah Jams Band will play June 10, leading up to The Astronomers at 8:30 p.m. Fallback and FBI & The Untouchable Horns will finish out the weekend on June 11.

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Michels Corporation Wild World of Animals on Oven Island will feature several animals throughout the weekend, including alligators, a snapping turtle, large reticulated python, albino monocle cobra, European eagle owl, blue and gold macaw, African spotted leopard and more.

Pier Pups Canine Dock Jumping is back again this year, starting at 3:30 p.m. June 9 and continuing through the weekend on Main Street.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace invites attendees to sign up for a half-hour time slot to build a bed as part of the organization's main goal to provide beds for children in the community and the weekend goal to complete 44 beds at the 44th Walleye Weekend.

Sign-up is available at and on the Sleep in Heavenly Peace Facebook page.

The Hearts to Heroes Charity Ride, co-sponsored by Patriot Riders of America-WI, starts 11 a.m. June 10 from Open Road Harley Davidson, 24 S. Rolling Meadows Drive, traveling across Fond du Lac and neighboring counties before ending at Walleye Weekend. Day-of registration starts at 9 a.m., and the entry fee of $25 to $35 benefits Camp Hometown Heroes and Dogs to Dog Tags.

While June 11 is Mercury Marine Family Day, family-friendly activities will entertain all ages throughout the weekend.

FamilyLand will have the Burke Scavenger Hunt, Kids Connection Tent, inflatable SeaHamsters and a giant sandbox all weekend, as well as an inflatable Bounce & Slide for Toddlers and an inflatable obstacle course for kids of all ages.

On June 10 and 11, First Tee will offer youth golf activities and Matt's Magic will perform a number of magic shows, followed by balloon artistry demonstrations.

Also on June 10 and 11, Fountain Island will turn into Imagination Island, and new to the island this year is Bubble Mania, with giant bubble sticks and create-your-own bubble wands.

Other Imagination Island activities include photo opportunities with storybook characters and King Arthur's "Sword and the Stone," face painting and THELMA-sponsored crafts and activities, such as a customizable "slime sundae bar."

At the Sports Corner, the Wisconsin Herd invites anyone 17 and younger to try to beat them in shooting, passing, dribbling and more, and Weaver from the Dock Spiders will make an appearance at 2 p.m. June 10 and 11.

Family Day-specific activities include a bike ride at 9:30 a.m. June 11 with the 0.4-mile Little Riders Route or a 2.5-mile Family Route from the Deneveu Shelter — where helmets will be required and a $5 per person or $10 per family fee will benefit Fond du Lac Area Women's Fund and United Way of Fond du Lac.

The Echoes of Camp Randal Marching Band from University of Wisconsin-Madison will march a 30-minute showcase leading up to the closing ceremony.

For more information and a festival map, visit

Contact Daphne Lemke at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @daphlemke.

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