2013 GFO arrives in Park Rapids
BY JEAN RUZICKA
The moment is at hand.
After a year’s planning, countless hours spent by hundreds of volunteers, the Governor’s Fishing Opener highlighting the Park Rapids lakes area is about to begin.
“Area lakes have nearly shed their winter coats,” Chamber director Katie Magozzi said. “We are optimistic for soft water.”
“Fishing will be on open water,” event chair Dennis Mackedanz said of launching on the river system, if necessary. Fishing hosts will be monitoring area lakes for progress, he said, noting water bodies are showing headway, from just Monday morning to the afternoon.And if the ice doesn’t recede, this is a fishing opener that will always be remembered, he said.“Catch a memory” may not hold the originally intended meaning, but in the grand scheme of things, carry more weight.Park Rapids will go down in history as hosting an opener on ice.Dignitaries and media will begin arriving Thursday. Park Rapids is the first-ever municipality to invite guests a day early, offering tours of the area’s unique features.Friday the community is invited to a free picnic supper under the “big top” on Second Street.Family fun activities start at 3:30 p.m. on the first two blocks of Main street.Free shuttles will be running east and west routes from 3 to 10 p.m.Stops for the east route include the C’mon Inn, SummerField Place, River Heights, the Third Street tennis courts and Calvary, stopping and reversing course downtown.The west route stops are Park Villa, Heritage Manor, Court Apartments and St. Peter’s, also stopping and reversing downtown.More than 40 booths on the first two blocks of Main will showcase segments of the community. From a NASCAR simulator to minnow races to a fish filet challenge to watching Charlie Brown comic strips come to life - the afternoon will be a grand time of camaraderie.Audie Cole, Minnesota Vikings linebacker, will arrive for the event.Park Rapids’ family owned and operated resorts – still providing the traditional “cabin at the lake” – will be highlighted.Raffle tickets for the 2013 Crestliner boat and Ice Castle fish house will be on sale at Friday’s events – the last chance for purchase. This is the largest prize package in GFO history. The drawing will be held Saturday, May 11.A short program featuring Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon and other dignitaries is planned at 4 p.m. The free dinner served on 2nd Street, between Main and Highway 71, follows.“We are prepared for 2,500 people,” Magozzi said of the menu of pulled pork sandwiches with Grandma Foster’s barbecue sauce, Captain Ken’s baked beans, Lamb Weston/ RDO French fries cooked on site, Land o’ Lakes ice cream, fresh fruit and beverages.The music line-up includes:n 3:30 to 3:50 p.m. - Incredibly Real, a group of local 10- to 14-year-old boys, has captured the hearts of the community. Featuring country and classic rock, their enthusiasm and love of music are contagious.Musicians are brothers Dan and twins Jack and Tim Walsh, Jack Bateman, Logan Veo and Derek Reichling. They have been face-booking their friends to highlight their excitement about playing for the event.n 3:50 to 4 p.m. -Smokey Hills Singers, an Anishinabe drum group based in the White Earth Reservation, will welcome the governor.Among other core values, the group is committed to educating others about Native American culture.n 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. -Mark Bridge, Park Rapids, banjo and mandolin; Paul Nye, Walker, guitar, and JeffMenten, Park Rapids, fiddle and mandolin, play as Four No More.Four No More entertains with an acoustic variety of bluegrass, newgrass, classic rock and a sprinkling of Nye’s originals tunes.n 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. - The Wranglers will entertain with cowboy music and other American favorites.Members are Jeff Menten on fiddle and mandolin, Dean Westby on guitar, Mark Bridge on banjo and Rick Amsberry on bass.n 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. -Tree Party tips their hats to the roots of country music, covering the likes of HankWilliams, Jimmie Rodgers, Gillian Welch, Webb Pierce and Willie Nelson.Tree Party has all the basics for an old-timecountry band: Rockabilly upright bass, fiddling, four-party harmonies, and of course, a little bit of yodeling. Band members are Joey Ford, Jenna Wyse, Travis Bolton and Andy Carroll.Park Rapids will be the first GFO community picnic in Minnesota history to culminate with fireworks.