MACKINAW — As always, central Illinois dads were gifted with classic Father’s Day gifts: a new tie, a fresh sleeve of golf balls, a coffee mug that reads “World’s Best Dad” — and, for some, a day at the lake.
Mackinaw Valley Vineyard opened up its lake Sunday to welcome dads, grandpas and kids of all ages for Fishing with Dad.
“We don’t usually allow fishing on the lake and so this is the one day a year we just let people do open fishing and we let people keep the fish,” owner Diane Hahn said. “We don’t fish that lake very much so it gets a little bit packed so it’s good to thin it out.”
The annual event usually welcomes close to 100 people to fish the otherwise unfished lake, though Hahn said the heat might have affected the turnout this year.
The heat advisory that spanned the weekend kept the temperature above 90 and the heat index around 105, but luckily it didn’t keep all the dads away.
With kids in tow, they reeled in bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish from the small lake, some with more luck than others.
Todd Bullock of Normal said he pulled in about 10 fish after more than an hour in the sun with his 14-year-old son Jacob. Another dad who only had one good bite admitted he’s had better years at the vineyard.
Bullock’s wife, Jeannie said her husband and son fish every night, but this was their first time attending the Father’s Day event in Mackinaw.
Todd brought an extra pole so she spent some time fishing as well but after a while retreated to the shade where her book was waiting, which Hahn said tends to happen on Father’s Day.
“Sometimes the gals will come and have wine (inside) here and hang out while the guys are down there with the kids fishing,” she said.
The rural vineyard draws in people from all across central Illinois since it's "kind of 30 minutes from everybody," Hahn said. This year, the vineyard is celebrating its 15th anniversary of welcoming the community to the Hahn's backyard, as Diane's late husband Paul used to say.
A variety of family-oriented events bring people to the vineyard throughout the year so Hahn said the children tagging along with their fathers — from adults to those small enough to be more interested in Mom’s snacks than casting — were more than welcome.
“Father’s Day is kind of a neglected holiday. You know, Mother’s Day — there’s brunches and there’s like everything in the world for Mother’s Day,” Hahn said. “We just started doing the Father’s Day thing thinking it was a good day to open the place up and do something different and simple.”
Kelsey Watznauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kwatznauer.