Volunteers gearing up to host Governor's Fishing Opener on Gull Lake
As this week’s rain and wind continue to weaken ice on area lakes, hundreds of volunteers are in full swing preparing to host the 67th annual Governor’s Fishing Opener (GFO) on May 8-11 on Gull Lake, with headquarters at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.
Plans include a free community picnic open to everyone at 4 p.m. Friday, May 9, under a block-long tent in downtown Nisswa. The city will welcome Gov. Mark Dayton, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon and other state leaders and commissioners. There will be more than 65 vendor booths throughout downtown offering games and activities; free pulled pork sandwiches, beans and chips; and entertainment from 8:30-10 p.m., featuring the Gear Daddies, followed by fireworks.
More than 5,000 are expected to attend the picnic.
Grand View Lodge will house hundreds of media representatives from all over, and area volunteers will guide those media representatives for the walleye and northern pike fishing opener Saturday, May 10. The governor’s guide was to be announced this week.
The committees are closing in on soliciting enough volunteers and final sponsorships.
“We’re always in need of volunteers,” said event co-chair Steve Mau of Brainerd General Rental. “We want plenty of folks in place if there are any questions.”
The event also could always use sponsors and people willing to contribute financially, he said.
“Right now what’s important is getting the word out to buy tickets to win the boat,” said event co-chair Frank Soukup of Grand View Lodge, referring to the 2014 Larson Boat package valued at $38,110. Raffle tickets are $5 each for the boat donated by Larson Boats. For a list of ticket locations, as well as where to find the boat on display, visit www.winthisboat.com.
The winning ticket will be drawn at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at Grand View Lodge. Funds raised go to pay for the GFO event.
“That’s really the key,” Soukup said of the raffle. “It’s a way to give back to the community,” as well as a chance to win a nice boat.
“It’s more than just a fishing boat. It’s a family fun boat,” he said.
Mau said after event expenses are paid, any balance left over is designated for marketing efforts so is plunged back into the community to promote the Brainerd lakes area.
The GFO is important for the focus it brings to a community, Soukup said. There are so many great places to vacation in the state, and the event brings different media organizations to highlight the area.
Soukup said he talked to organizers of last year’s GFO in Park Rapids, and they said resorts are seeing a 30 percent increase in bookings this year compared to last year.
“It’s hard to say it’s because of that, but you can’t exclude that it’s not,” he said.
Mau said the GFO is a media event, but it’s also a community event. He noted the relationships being made among the different groups working to promote the area and the event.
It’s said the area will receive $2 million in media exposure for hosting the GFO.
“That’s stuff that would cost real dollars if we had to go out and put a marketing campaign together,” Mau said, noting the goal is to get people to want to live, work and play here.
The 2014 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener on Gull Lake is being hosted by the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and host property Grand View Lodge in collaboration with the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce. The event is being coordinated by Explore Minnesota Tourism, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The annual event will spotlight fishing and the many recreational and travel opportunities in the Brainerd lakes area. More information can be found at www.mngovernorsopener.com.
Nancy Vogt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at facebook.com/PEJNancy and on Twitter @PEJ_Nancy.