One of the highlights of summer in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., is the appearance of large Fiberglas fish on street corners. The sturgeons are part of a citywide art event called Sturgeon Around the Bay. This year two of the entries had an aviation bent. One resembled a cross between a sturgeon and a P-51 Mustang. The other was a fish turned business jet created by Toby Kamark, a commercial pilot and part-time artist.
“I was thinking ‘Sturgeon Atlantic,’ which is sort of a play on words,” he explains. “I took the fins off the fish and used them to create the horizontal stabilizers and added engine nacelles.”
It took Kamark and his 17-year-old son Garret, who is a student pilot, about 180 hours to create the piece using composite materials common in the boating industry.
The sculpture is a little larger than a real sturgeon. “It measures seven and a half feet long and seven and a half feet wide. The wings are detachable for easy transport,” said Kamark.
Kamark is CEO of Orion Flight Services, an FBO with operations in Sturgeon Bay and Oshkosh.
His company handles a lot of the traffic during AirVenture, so getting the fish finished in time to prepare for the big show was a priority.
“There were a lot of late nights,” he recalls, noting this was the first time he participated in the event. “This is the fifth year they’ve had it. In past years I would walk by the sculptures and wonder if I could do something like that… and think that those fish resembled a business jet.”
The festival is organized by the Sturgeon Bay Visitor and Convention Bureau in partnership with HELP of Door County, a non-profit organization that helps people in need. Artists must have their designs approved before work begins.
Most of the artists are sponsored by local businesses. Sponsors pay $700 to enter the event, with $200 earmarked for artists’ supplies. Kamark’s design spent the summer on display in front of its sponsors, Pip Printing and Cabinet Cover.
After Labor Day the fish are auctioned off for charity. It’s Kamark’s understanding that some of the festival fish have sold for upward of $10,000. Proceeds from the sale of Kamark’s design benefited the Lakeshore Civil Air Patrol.
As this issue was going to press, the amount it fetched at auction was not available.