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A thank you to all GFO volunteers

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John Edman, Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, turned to me at Saturday night’s Celebration Dinner and may have said it best, “Dennis, it appears this event has gone from your head to your heart” and he was correct. Over the course of the last 10 months, I watched as what began as hopes and ideas became countless hours of meetings and planning that led to the implementation of the 2013 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener. As it unfolded before our community, it was truly nothing short of inspiring!

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First, I want to thank Cynthia Jones for her persistence in encouraging me to take on the chair position for this event – I guess saying “no” multiple times can turn to yes! The next thank you goes to Katie Magozzi and her tireless efforts in guiding me while completing her tasks at the same time. Thanks go to the committee chairs and co-chairs that brought their skills to the table and focused on their particular part of the event. I am grateful for Blake Johnson’s leadership as the event co-chair and adding a new phrase to my vocabulary – “boom done.” Lastly and most importantly, thank you to over 400 volunteers who gave tirelessly of their time in so many ways over the last several months to make this event happen!

The leadership skill we have in our community is incredible. When this journey began in 2010, Butch De La Hunt along with Cynthia Jones, Blake Johnson, Bob Seifert, Jason Durham, Hendri Ernst, and Dan Walker were the core volunteers of the planning committee. The intent of the Governor’s Fishing Opener is to celebrate traditions and promote tourism in our state and Butch De La Hunt led the charge for media and promotion and for this I am grateful.

Larry Roberts, community raffle chair, created the initial plan for ticket sales at multiple community events and in March. When Larry was called out of town, Mary Peterson stepped in for him until his return. Sherry Safratowich, sponsorship chair, spent countless hours on the phone working hard to secure sponsorships and donations to pay for the event. Terry Wilmot coordinated assembling the commemoratives for our guests. Activities Chair Mary Peterson kept the non-fishing events flowing smoothly. Sharon Natzel worked with the DNR to plan the Kids Fishing event and the downtown DNR activities. Cynthia Jones, Molly Luther and LuAnn Hurd-Lof coordinated the downtown community picnic serving 2,460 people! Dan Walker coordinated the shore lunch for 500+ people on Saturday. Bob Seifert and Kim Donahue were the go-to people for food logistics for all events. Jason Durham and Blake Johnson headed up the Fishing Host committee. Sandy Perez and Renae Brauer along with Kim Donahue created the Celebration Dinner. Lodging chair Julie Larson worked with area establishments to set up guest accommodations. Scott Hewitt and the Northwoods crew coordinated the production of all event signage and placed them throughout the community. Glenn Chiodo worked with Linda Bair on transportation logistics coordinating getting the over 300 guests to a variety of destinations. Tara Norton and Sheryl Olsonawski kept me on track making sure we were on budget which was key to our success. Jan Rumpza coordinated more than 400 requests for volunteers. And lastly, a heartfelt thanks to Emma Moore, the Chamber’s administrative support and event coordinator, who along with Chamber bookkeeper and administrative assistant, Tara Norton, possess vision and organizational skills that are second to none and without them, we would not have been able to hold the pieces together for a successful event.

Words cannot truly describe what our community has just experienced and it is time celebrate! You will be hard pressed to find someone in our community who was not affected positively by the 2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener. WE overcame weather adversities to showcase our area to the state of Minnesota and beyond. And as I watched people throughout the event, I cannot help but notice how the 2013 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener had transformed others – going from “their heads to their hearts.”

Thank you,

Dennis Mackedanz,

2013 GFO Event Chair

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