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Still good, family fun

Dog retriever trials have become a popular event at Prairie Pothole Day, which will add Dock Dog long distance jumping this year. Tribune file photo

NEW LONDON -- It's still the best deal around for a day of family entertainment.

For the cost of ... just the gas to get there and back, Prairie Pothole Day and Sibley State Park's Open House offer a day's worth of dogs, birds, hunting and nature.

Prairie Pothole Day, in its 27th year as the big fundraiser for the Prairie Pothole chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, will be held Saturday, Sept. 12 at Stoney Ridge Farm, located just outside of Sibley State Park on U.S. Highway 71.

Information on Sibley State Park's Open House will be published in the Sept. 5 edition of the West Central Tribune.

Affordable entertainment is the key draw to Stoney Ridge Farm, according to Dave Larson, Prairie Pothole's treasurer.

"We will do well in a down economy because we have free admission and free parking," he said. "After 9/11 we didn't have any problems the next year. We don't have $4 gas this year, either. It's a pretty good deal to bring your family to. We're really happy with how it is going."

Adults are urged to purchase raffle tickets. Food and refreshments are also available for purchase on the grounds.

Coming back to Prairie Pothole Day as one of the main draws is Scott Threinen, a two-time world live goose calling champion, who will have a seminar on duck and goose calling. Threinen, who is also a three-time state champ, was a featured presenter at Game Fair earlier this month.

The University of Minnesota Raptor Center will bring a bald eagle and two other birds of prey, and Chad Hughes, a chef for Wings North, a hunting club in Pine City, will hold a wild game cooking demonstration.

One of the fastest growing programs at Prairie Pothole Day has been the dog retriever trials. The dog events will get a little bigger as "Dock Dogs," a long-distance jumping event for dogs, is added.

"It's not a competition where we already have a list of dogs that will compete," Larson said. "You bring your own dog and see what they can do.

"We've had people ask us if we would do it. You see it on TV more than in the past. This group ran trials at the Redwood County fair for national ranking in early August."

There will also be events for children, a vintage wood duck decoy display by Bruce Hoaglund, and archery and sporting clays shooting.

Larson said he expects a similar crowd as the last couple of years, at about 3,500 people.

"I think we'll be in the same bull's-eye that we have been in," he said. "It's a good way for people to get out and spend the day.

He also noted the nation's economy hasn't had a dramatic effect on the chapter's ability to put on a good show.

"We are in good shape," Larson said. "Like any year, we have a business or two that can't give, but we also have a few new ones, just like every year."

And there are still plenty willing to give.

"We can't get it done without all the people who put in time and businesses who donate products and money to make it all happen," he said.