2016 Minnesota Governors Fishing Opener

This past weekend was the 2016 Minnesota Governors Fishing Opener which was the 69th annual event and by all measures it was a huge success!

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener Hosted by McGregor MN

The smallish town of McGregor Minnesota has 396 residents, yet at the same time they had 400+ volunteers who helped put this event together.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Everyone was bundled up to have a great time!

While the weather was cold the hospitality and cheer was very warm indeed.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

And while the fishing might have started out a little bit slow, the day ended with plenty of success all around to be had by the fishermen, women and children.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Quaint Fun In McGregor

School House Cafe, McGregor http://www.schoolhousecafemn.com/

While this event is called the governor’s fishing opener, in reality it’s a huge celebration of Minnesota tourism and in my opinion it’s the official kickoff of Minnesota summer!

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Everyone is Having Fun at the Picnic

Tourism In Minnesota

Let’s take a look at the impact of Tourism on the Minnesota economy.

Travel/tourism in Minnesota generates:

SALES

  • $13.6 billion in gross sales
  • More than $37 million a day

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Amazing Fun at the Community Picnic Governor Fishing Opener

JOBS

  • 254,400 full- and part-time jobs
  • 11% of total private sector employment
  • $4.7 billion in wages

REVENUE

  • $878 million in state sales tax
  • 17% of state sales tax revenues

Note: Data for leisure & hospitality sector, 2014

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Big Sandy Resort and Lodge

International Travel to Minnesota

Minnesota’s appeal as a travel destination extends

across the globe, including:

  • 633,00 Canadian travelers on overnight trips
  • 258,000 additional international travelers from other countries

Note: Canadian estimate is for 2014; Estimate for other countries is 2012-2014 annual average



2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Face Painting Time at the Community Picnic Governor Fishing Opener

 

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota Fishing for Life at The Governors Fishing Opener

Leisure & Hospitality Gross Sales (in billions) 2004-2014

Growth in the tourism industry

Sales at leisure and hospitality businesses grew 37% from 2004 to 2014,

including 5% annual growth for 2014.

$10.0 $11.0 $13.6

2004 2009 2014

Impacts of state tourism advertising

  • 3.2 million Minnesota trips
  • $337.4 million traveler spending
  • $31.2 million direct state and local taxes
  • 2.6 million additional intended trips in next 12 months
  • $75 to $1 traveler spending return on ad investment
  • $7 to $1 state and local tax return on ad investment

Yep, tourism in Minnesota is a huge industry!

The Fishing Opener

Let’s take a look at the particulars of this event.  The event took place up in McGregor Minnesota.  It was planned and put together significantly by the McGregor Area Chamber of Commerce led by the Dynamo Lisa Marsyla Kruse.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

The Dynamo Lisa M Kruse, McGregor Area Chamber of Commerce

The event was hosted by Big Sandy Lodge and Resort,

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Big Sandy Lodge and Resort

Big Sandy Camp & Retreat Center

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Big Sandy Camp & Retreat Center

 

and Minnesota National Golf Course.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Minnesota National Golf Course

There was a ton of work done at the state level from the DNR office and the Explore Minnesota tourism office and of course many many more.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Alyssa Ebel and Caitlin Rick,  The Marketing Muscle Behind Explore Minnesota

I need to call out at one very special person that has been involved in this event for I believe 40 years; The ever positive incredibly hard-working Carol Votava Altepeter retired this year after giving years of her life to this glorious event.  She is a legend in the inner workings of the governor’s fishing opener.

Friday’s Festivities

The events kicked off Thursday and ran through Sunday morning.  Many of the events were designed to highlight the region and how important it is in Minnesota tourism.

ATV in McGregor

I showed up on Friday morning to register and I got to partake in the ATV event.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Up North Riders Inc. ATV Club McGregor, MN

 

There is a very large ATV Club up in the McGregor area.  A representative from the county land management office gave us an overview of how important the ATV Community is becoming for that region.  The ATV clubs build and maintain trails so that more people would come up to the area. They were showing a graph of how camping in their region has been exploding over the last couple years as more and more Trails become available.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

While some trails are shared with the snowmobile Enthusiast other trails are purely ATV trails so they’re not destroying the land or running across private property or whatever the case may be.  They are serious about using the land in a responsible way and they work very hard to maintain the land.  We went out for a three-hour ride into the backcountry in going across the old railroad train track beds that are now a combination snowmobile ATV trail.  We covered about 16 miles of trails and then we stopped for a very nice lunch.  We visited with many of the people that were involved with the large club.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

They took the responsibility of caring for the land very seriously and they worked very hard to make the trails accessible and keep people from damaging the land.

At the same time there were many other activities going on throughout the city introducing people to McGregor proper seeing all the events and activities around the area from restaurants cafes wineries Etc. McGregor certainly is a thriving energetic community.

Community Picnic

Friday evening then there was the large McGregor Community picnic that seemed to be the official kickoff of the entire event.

They had the local choir singing

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

McGregor High School Choir 

and the local high school band playing.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

McGregor High School Band

They had dignitaries giving speeches they have vendors they’re presenting their Wares Minnesota Vikings players were in the crowd and they will have a wonderful summer picnic meal of burgers and beans and potato salad at etc.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, Gov Mark Dayton, Lisa M Kruse

Of course the dignitaries were giving their speeches, Governor Mark Dayton, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, Minnesota tourism director John Edman, the lovely Miss Minnesota, Rachel Latuff and many many more.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Miss Minnesota, Rachel Latuff

It was a wonderful celebration of community culture and tourism.

That night I wanted to do my best to capture a great sunset. So, I snuck over to Big Sandy Camp & Retreat Center where they were hosting much of the media for the event. I set up hoping to capture a great sunset, but then came the snow squall and the 30 mile an hour winds.  As a good Minnesota would, I waited through the snow squall and hoped and prayed for the sun to pop out.  My prayers were answered and I was given this incredible sunset at Big Sandy camp!  What an amazing view!

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Sunset at Big Sandy Camp

Saturday Festivities

On Saturday morning the day of the big event, we were we were awakened with the surprise of a half an inch of snow on the ground. Well that wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, we Minnesotans are hardy and knew how to deal with it.  You simply put on another layer of clothes and get out and get going.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Snow 2016 Minnesota Governors Fishing Opener Big Sandy Camp

The mornings of the event started initially with again speeches from dignitaries,  the posting of the flag from the local honor guard, the singing of the national anthem,  and of course smoking of the peace pipe.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Governor Mark Dayton Smoking A Peace Pipe

Now we were on to the serious business of catching fish.  My job as a photographer for the morning was tried to capture fishermen and women capturing fish.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

It was fun to see Fido out there ready to catch fish also!  Everyone was eager for huge success.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

We went from boat to boat trying to get images of big fish.  We kept hearing the same story again and again that, being it was quite cold the fish were moving very slowly and they were probably going pretty deep too insulate themselves from the cold.  We had gone to 46 boats before we found fisherman that would show us a fish.  But after that point then all the sudden it seems like the fish started biting like crazy.  By around 10 o’clock the actions seem to be pretty hot and heavy.

Then I captured the magic shot of the day, the iconic image of what fishing is all about, the image of three generations of a family fishing together and the little tyke pulling in his dream catch.  This my friends is what fishing is all about.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

This Tyke Was So Excited With His Catch

After the time of fishing we headed back to shore for the community fish fry.  No they were not frying up fish captured that today but they were indeed frying up a very large walleye and it was an incredible feast!

Fish Fry at the 2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota
Fish Fry at the 2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener McGregor Minnesota

Closing Ceremonies

That evening the Minnesota National Golf Course hosted the closing ceremonies.  The facilities at the Minnesota National Golf Course were glorious.   We had a wonderful time to visit with friends and meet new friends and network and frankly just to have a wonderful time.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Sunset At The Minnesota National Golf Course

Guess what, there were speeches again!  The purpose of most of the speeches throughout the evening was to put meaning to the history and the legacy of this event and to thank so many where were involved and sponsored the event.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Governor Mark Dayton at the 2016 Governors Fishing Opener

The announcement was made that St. Cloud area will be hosting the 2017 Minnesota Governor’s fishing opener.  It turns out that St. Cloud is my original stomping grounds in Minnesota so I will of course have to go and capture that event next year.  It will be so exciting to see how a river town will host the governor’s fishing opener.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith

Well I do the Minnesota National Golf course as the evening was finishing up I was able to capture a few sunset images they’re on their beautiful grounds.  Wow what a place!

 

Then while driving back to the Big Sandy camp I finally found the fire tower that had been talked about but I hadn’t seen it until that evening. So I ran up the fire tower quickly to attempt to capture what proved to be a glorious Sunset that evening.

2016 Minnesota Governors fishing opener Mcgregor Minnesota

Sunset View over Big Sandy Lake 2016 Governors Fishing Opener

Wow what a great view of an incredible Vista from that fire tower!

This panoramic view became the 2016 Governor’s fishing opener in your commemorative print.  If you are part of the event and would like to capture the memories you can find a print here.

Conclusion

I can’t wait until next year!  And if you are a fisherman or fisher-woman to be sure to get out there and explore new rivers and lakes and fishing opportunities but even more so get out and explore all of the great Minnesota.

And until next time get out and capture the adventure.

 

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Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website
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