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Governor's Fishing Opener in Willmar seeks hosts

Tribune file photo Organizers in Kandiyohi County are calling for 100 hosts to volunteer to take visitors fishing May 10-13 when the Willmar Lakes Area hosts the Governor’s Fishing Opener. The last time it was held in Kandiyohi County was in 1995 with then-Gov. Arne Carlson, front left.

WILLMAR — Over 100 hosts will be needed to take visitors fishing May 10-13 when the Willmar Lakes Area hosts the 2018 Governor's Fishing Opener.

The executive committee has put out a call for volunteers to serve as hosts.

"This is a great opportunity for local fishing enthusiasts to share their passion and help showcase our community," said Fishing Hosts Co-Chair Dean Anfinson in a news release from the Willmar Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Hosts will be paired with members of the media, major sponsors, representatives from the governor's office and other special guests.

The real goal of the opener is to highlight the local area and encourage people from around the state to visit, according to Beth Fischer, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The opener will be on Green Lake in Spicer, and associated events throughout the weekend are slated in Willmar, Spicer and New London.

The last time the governor's fishing opener was held in Kandiyohi County was in 1995, when Arne Carlson was governor.

The Governor's Fishing Opener is considered to be the largest tourism and media familiarization event of the year in the state, providing hundreds of thousands — and potentially millions — of dollars worth of free publicity for the host community.

More than 130 media personnel participated in last year's opener hosted by St. Cloud and showcasing the Mississippi River. The event generated a total of 3,724 media placements — print, online, radio, TV, and social media — with a publicity value of over $1.3 million.

"This is really an exciting event," Fischer said. "We're very fortunate to have won the bid for this year's opener, and we encourage people to get involved."

Fishing hosts do not need to be fishing experts. They simply need to have a licensed boat, and a willingness to spend some time talking about the Willmar Lakes Area.

"It doesn't require a fancy fishing boat, and you don't need to be a professional angler," Anfinson said. "A pontoon will do just fine, and at worst, you might have to remove a fish from someone's hook," he added. "The main requirement is just to have fun and be friendly."

Fishing hosts will be expected to attend an appreciation dinner May 10, and a guest pairing event May 11. On May 12, hosts must be available for the official send-off ceremony on Green Lake and the shore lunch, both in Spicer. The official fishing challenge will wrap up around 4 p.m. that day.

"Last year in St. Cloud, there was a waiting list for people wanting to be Fishing Hosts," said Laura Anfinson, co-chair of the Fishing Hosts Committee. "So apply early," she added.

For details on becoming a 2018 fishing host, or to apply, visit mngovernorsopener.com.

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