82nd National Trout Festival​​ 

April 25th-29th 

Kalkaska, Michigan 

Hello! My name is Deb Ball-Odeh and I was born and raised in Kalkaska, MI. As an adult, after a dozen years living elsewhere in Michigan, I decided to come home. This is where I have raised my son, Spencer Hamilton. We have a great community and school district for families. I am a proud graduate of Kalkaska High School, Class of 1982.

When I lived downstate, I was a sporadic volunteer. A friend would mention needing help with a community or church project so I would oblige. When my son entered school, my volunteer hat became a permanent fixture, starting at one day a week in his classroom. I spent ten years as a volunteer at Birch Street Elementary. I found a great job helping in the library! Seeing the kids’ faces light up when they found a book with a favorite character was always a joy. I was lucky to be there for seven years full-time and learned things I never thought I needed to know like how to fix a laminating machine. I am very proud of the thirteen years of programs, activities, and events I was able to organize for and help I could provide to KPS students and their families. One of my favorites was organizing the Blazer Bash, from its inception, for a decade. It gave me an opportunity to work with a lot of my friends who would always step up to help with this welcome back-to-school party.

My volunteer focus was strictly on our school district for several years and then one day, I attended a meeting to ask about the PTO providing an activity in a local Christmas celebration. I somehow managed to leave that meeting as a co-chair and have since been working with a small core group of faithful volunteers to bring Christmas in Kalkaska to our community. I’ve spread my wings considerably since then by joining the Kalkaska County Agricultural Fair as a board director and secretary, serving on the Kalkaska County Parks & Recreation Committee, and being what I consider a civilian member of the Village of Kalkaska DDA’s Farmers’ Market and Projects & Promotions Committees. I love being a part of these groups with like-minded individuals. We all strive to make a positive difference in our community through a variety of ways.

Several years ago, I began filling in at the volunteer desk at the Senior Center. I got to visit with folks I’ve known since childhood while providing a service. I am still at the desk two days a week but also work for the Commission on Aging now as the Public Relations Coordinator. I produce the monthly newsletter, The Chatterbox, manage the Facebook page, and take care of press releases and getting our activities into a variety of media outlets, and help a bit with organizing some of those activities. I also work for the Voice, the Good News Paper, as editor of the Community Calendar and Out & About sections. I manage that Facebook page, too. It’s been a running joke that if Kalkaska is in the title of a Facebook page, I run it. Not quite true but I do manage several other than those mentioned above, including Kalkaska County Events and Information, Kalkaska Farmers’ Market, National Trout Festival, Kalkaska County Agricultural Fair, and more. Facebook is a fantastic way to get the word out very quickly.

I am honored and humbled to have been asked by the National Trout Festival Board to act as Grand Marshall. The Trout Fest has been a part of my life since I was born. I always tried to come home in April when living away. Many of my favorite childhood memories are centered on the Trout Festival. When I was four years old, I won the Kids’ Fishing Contest at the Mill Pond. I won a shiny, brand new fishing pole! To earn my ride ticket money, I raked leaves but gave that up for babysitting when I was old enough. In fifth grade, my classroom won the float competition and we celebrated with a pool and pizza party. Being the Grand Marshall is like the cherry on my trout cake!  

Deb Ball-Odeh