The 22nd annual American Legion Fishing Derby did well, considering there was no ice fishing.

The on-ice component of the event was canceled this year due to unsafe ice conditions. However, all the fishing prizes were raffled off along with thousands of dollars in additional drawings Saturday at Post 212 in Park Rapids.

Both the banquet hall and the bar were full at the Legion, with food and drink being served on both sides and a playing-card version of bingo-with-plinko being played for prizes. Outside, there was also a heated tent with another bar and a cornhole tournament.

Derby chair Jerry Benham estimated that about 1,000 came out for the non-fishing derby. “We had a good year,” he said. “We had a big turnout for the back tent with the cornhole tournament and the games. For not having the tournament on the ice, I think we did pretty good.”

Asked whether he thought more people bought tickets because the odds were better of winning a raffle, Benham said, “Oh, absolutely. This is the first time we’ve ever sold out. We probably could have sold another five, six, seven, 800 tickets. The phone’s been ringing off the hook all week.”

Newsletter signup for email alerts

There were a total of 4,000 tickets for the original 66 raffle prizes plus the 55 ice fishing prizes combined – giving each ticket buyer a 33 percent chance of winning a prize.

Tucker Golley, age 4, displays the fishing rod he won as a door prize with his grandpa, Todd Golley.
Tucker Golley, age 4, displays the fishing rod he won as a door prize with his grandpa, Todd Golley.

“It’s a good deal,” said Benham, adding that only three people requested refunds before the drawings commenced. The funds raised will go into the Legion’s gaming fund, which he said will “all be distributed around town. It all goes to charitable organizations.”

He noted that the value of the prizes this year totaled $125,000. In comparison, the Legion had printed 4,500 tickets for the 2019 derby, when the prizes totaled $150,000 in value.

“I think we would have sold out this year no matter what,” he said.

The weather was sunny and a little above freezing in Park Rapids that day. “This would have been a perfect day to be out on the lake,” Benham noted. While folding the fishing prizes into the raffle drawings helped sell tickets, he said, “A weekend like this, I bet we would have come close to selling out anyway, because it’s so beautiful, if we would have had ice. I’m almost positive of that.”

“There were a few people who were disappointed they didn’t get to go out on the lake,” said Vicki Newman, who was in charge of the gaming side of the event. “Those true fishermen.”

2020 American Legion Fishing Derby prize winners

Grand Prize: $30,000 Park Rapids Ford gift certificate: Danica Derks

Grand Prize: Ice Castle fish house from Smokey Hills Outdoor Store: Don Wicks

Cash prizes:

  • $5,000: Candi Anderson, Tara Harsha, Doug Sandstrom, Brady Taffe

  • $1,000: Kyle Hamre, Craig Teal, Allie Nelson, Melvin Hochstatter, Greg Scott

  • $500: Patty Dudley, David Sordahl, Lonnie Nelson, Laurie Jordan, David Wilke, Chad Ingeman, Allen Nepstad, Ron Lashewski, Devon Drewes, Chantz DeWinter

  • $400: Gary Kaiser, Travis Lusti, Kris Cook, Dacle Schmid Jr.,

  • $350: Jess Vavra, Steve Mako, Al Horton, Sherry Myhlhousen

  • $300: Bob Wobbrock, Justin Neste, Cynthia Jones, Kirk Riley, Craig Teal, Candy Parks, Doug Eiklenborg

  • $250: Brad Carlson, Charlie Kellner, Matt Magnan, Carl Quann, David Sandberg, Ron Golberg, Lloyd Edelman, Josh Grover, Rick Schwartz, Lowell Warne, Craig Merschman

  • $200: Nancy Neste, Shelly Holland, Scott Carlson, Katie Wagener, Allan Sjodin, Jason McAllister, Mike Zick, Blair Herman

  • $150: Devon Beste, Brent Jacobson, Ryan Kuhl, Coly Carr, Jackie Carlson

  • $125: Mark Branstrom, Kelly Wittman, Carmen Jewison

  • $100: Jennifer Peters, Ted Bandy, Duane Fox, Amy Weiss, Beatrice Backholm, Kyle Mack, Mark Griffin, Terry Forbes, Rebecca Shore, Shala Wilson, Steen Eischens, Craig Wilke, Craig Teal, Todd Young

  • $50: Brian Bergerson

Other raffle prizes:

  • Alumalite skid house: Randy Kiphach

  • Casino package: Penny Reich

  • Complete car cleanup: Dan Skudlarek

  • Drill driver: Mark Shroder, Kasey K., Mike Marjama, Richard Gardner, Chad Haugen, Fred Campos, Ryan Van Roekle, Tim Moore, Richard N.

  • Fish house ice skis: Joseph Hallorem

  • Fish locator: Kelly Kimball, Tim Hensel, Ken Doncanson, Jesse Degroot

  • Game camera: Jeff McGill

  • Gas grill: Harlow Janssen

  • Gift certificates: Jerry Olson, Michael Braunlin, JT Luther, Corey Herberg, Daud Branstrom, Dan Peil, Jason Strom, Andy Manners, Keith Torma, Brian Bergerson, Audrey Davis, Mike Wheeler, Marilyn Murphy, Bob Bakman, Jessi Johnson, Mindi Nevala, Trevor Hendrickson

  • Golf package: Scott Thompson

  • Moondance Jam ticket package: Aaron Phillipe, Bob Bell

  • Polaris Ranger gift certificate: Jan Fickle

  • Portable fish house: Michael Offerdahl, Keith Jordahl

  • Range finder: DJ Raduenuz

  • Recliner: Alicia Podoll

  • Rustic furniture piece: Alan McGraw

  • Two nights at a hotel: Marguerite Henry, Jordan Eichens