Volunteers debate timing of Governor's Fishing Opener

A group of volunteers has stepped forward to proceed with working on an application for the Park Rapids area to host the 2011 Governor's Fishing Opener.

A group of volunteers has stepped forward to proceed with working on an application for the Park Rapids area to host the 2011 Governor's Fishing Opener.

But the application may or may not be submitted at the Oct. 1 deadline after evaluating whether the community seems prepared. If the application is not submitted this year, the group will continue to work on developing an application for the 2012 Governor's Fishing Opener.

At a Thursday morning meeting, about 20 people showed up to discuss the possibility of hosting the opener. The main issue was whether Park Rapids should throw its hat in the ring in 2011 or 2012.

Katie Magozzi, Park Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, said it was up to the community and those attending the planning meetings. She asked for input.

Several people expressed concern about the downtown businesses being ready to go into another project immediately after, or during, the Main Avenue reconstruction project scheduled for 2010 with a completion date of July 2011.


Ellis Jones, chairman of the Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee, presented a timeline for the downtown reconstruction project and said that while major construction should be completed in 2010, the finishing touches will be completed in the spring of 2011.

Cynthia Jones, Downtown Business Association co-chair and Chamber board member, said the downtown community will already be under a lot of stress with the construction project in 2010 and many of the business owners won't be able to commit too much in the way of volunteerism for the 2011 Governor's Fishing Opener if Park Rapids was chosen.

"I support submitting a letter that says we are serious about this and we are submitting a proposal for 2012," she said.

Cynthia Jones was also concerned about money.

"We're developing a marketing plan for the revitalization project," she said. "We plan to go out and get sponsors from the business community. We can't do it ourselves."

Also, money is raised each year for the Legends and Logging Days festival held each August. To ask businesses to also give money for the Governor's Fishing Opener would be a lot to ask, Cynthia Jones said.

It is estimated that the host community would need to raise between $60,000 and $80,000 cash, according to Carol Altepeter, coordinator of the event for Explore Minnesota Tourism. To contrast that figure, the community typically gains about $600,000 in media exposure.

"There's going to be a lot of stress in the community next summer," Cynthia Jones said. "I'm very positive we'll get through it but it will take a lot of effort."


David Collins, Hubbard County Regional Economic Development executive director, said he agreed with Cynthia about preparing an application for the 2012 opener.

"If we take a year to work on the application, we'll be better prepared," he said.

But in 2011, the state will have a new governor, so it will be a big media year, Magozzi said.

Jerry Janz, president and CEO of State Bank of Park Rapids, said he would like the community to submit an application for 2011. He volunteered in Detroit Lakes when the Governor's Fishing Opener was held there in 1988.

Fundraising was not a problem, he said. In fact, the community received more than it needed.

"Getting the governor the first year in our community will probably create double the media," Janz said.

Bill Smith, Park Rapids city administrator, said he agrees that the community will be stressed about the downtown projects but said the major construction will be done in 2010. He thinks the community could pull together to host the opener in 2011.

Magozzi said she has gotten a lot of positive feedback from resort owners and many would be willing to open before Memorial Day for the Governor's Fishing Opener if it was held in Park Rapids.


Park Rapids last hosted the event in 1979 and Magozzi said it was about time this area hosted it again. This year's was held in White Bear Lake and 2010 will be at Lake Kabetogema and Ash River Trail in Voyageurs National Park.

If Park Rapids was chosen to host the opener, it would need to pick a lake with walleyes and rally hundreds of volunteers. Fundraising will need to be done but corporate sponsors generally follow the event as well.

"It's about showcasing the area, not just about fishing," Magozzi added.

Other events would be planned around the community during the weekend.

A free community picnic would be held Friday and a shore lunch would be served on Saturday at the lake.

Different committees needed would include: overall planning, lodging, transportation, fundraising, activities, public relations and the community picnic.

A committee of a few key volunteers will meet to prepare an application by the Oct. 1 deadline. At that time, it will be announced if an application will be sent for 2011 or if the committee will wait to submit it for 2012.

What To Read Next
Get Local