ALPENA - There were more than a few people with silly looks on their faces as they drove or walked through downtown Alpena on Wednesday. That is because they had crossed paths with Sasquatch, the star of the popular Jack Link's Beef Jerky commercial, who was in town doing some filming.
The new piece features not only Sasquatch, but many of Northeast Michigan's popular sights. Segments were shot at the lighthouse in Presque Isle, Rotary Island, on a charter fishing boat and downtown Alpena. The filming coincides with the taping of a reality fishing show by Major League Fishing that is filming and Jack Link's is the show's primary sponsor.
Alpena Convention and Visitor's Bureau President Mary Beth Stutzman, who played a large roll in bringing the fishermen and the filming crews to Alpena, said having a character as popular as Sasquatch and having Alpena featured in a spot with it is a big deal.
Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Travor Zolnierek, left, gets a hand from pro fisherman Mike Iaconelli, center, and Sasquatch after he unexpectedly hooked a fish during the shooting of a commercial about Alpena. The cameras also caught the popular TV character trying to take a bite out of the small mouth bass before Iaconelli helped Zolnierek unhook and release it. Major League Fishing and the Jack Link’s beef jerky Sasquatch spot are expected to run on the Outdoor Channel shortly after the first of the year. For more photos from this event, go to cu.thealpenanews.com.
"Alpena is being toured by the Sasquatch and he is seeing what a warm, friendly, relaxing community we are," Stutzman said. "This will be an immeasurable significance to Alpena. The fact that all of this is so close to our hearts and it will be broadcast to the nation. I can't put it into words how excited I am about this for Alpena."
Dale Heitzman is a cameraman working for the Outdoor Channel. and said it has been easy to find ideas and settings to film segments with Sasquatch. He said when he is done filming he intends to go and take personal photos and videos of some of the surroundings.
"It is beautiful here. Every time I turn around there is something really cool to shoot," Heitzman said. "I want to hurry up and get these features over with because as I have been driving around I have seen a lot of shots I want to get, but haven't been able to. In the next day or two I will have some time to drive around and shoot. There are so many cool things I want to go back and get."
One segment featured professional fisherman Mike Iaconelli watching Trevor Zolnierek of Alpena fish in the Thunder Bay River. The script called for the two to run away after being approached by Sasquatch, but before they could take their first steps, Zolnierek hooked into a bass unexpectedly and aided by Iaconelli and Sasquatch hauling it in. Because the camera was running the sequence was kept and could be used. Heitzman said the shot came about accidentally, but believes it will be a hit with viewers.
"It was just unbelievable the way that played out. As soon as I heard the holler he had a fish I started rolling," Heitzman said. "We get to see him fight it, pull it out of the river and then Sasquatch trying to take a bite out of it. It was unbelievable and so cool. That is the kind of stuff you can't plan. We have something else planned, but then that happened and it was just too perfect."
Iaconelli's reaction to Zolnierek hooking the fish was priceless. After the fish was landed and he helped Zolnierek unhook and release the bass, he joked that he wished he had the boy's skills fishing in Alpena. He even took note on what the boy was using for bait.
"That was a pretty nice small mouth. It was bigger than some of the ones I caught (Tuesday)," Iaconelli said. "In another 10 years he is going to be kicking our butts on tour."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com