Prairie Pothole Day lives as local group plans 38th annual event

The newly organized Prairie Pothole Conservation Association is making plans to host the popular event this September at Stoney Ridge Farm. The future of the big event was put into question with the loss of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association. Local members of its Prairie Pothole chapter formed the new association to continue the event

A retriever returns with a decoy during Prairie Pothole Days at the Stony Ridge Farm in September. Members of the Prairie Pothole chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association have re-organized as the Prairie Pothole Conservation Association in hopes of continuing the popular even in the wake of the demise of the MWA. Tribune file photo/Erica Dischino

NEW LONDON — Here’s welcome news for everyone who loves the outdoors.

The Prairie Pothole Conservation Association is making plans to host the 38th annual Prairie Pothole Day on Sept. 12 at Stoney Ridge Farm.

Dock dogs leaping into the water, trap shooters blasting holes in the sky and exhibitors offering demonstrations on everything from waterfowl calling to cooking up a wild game: The goal is to bring it all back as it has been through the years.

“That’s what we’re hoping, that it can stay the same,” said LeRoy Dahlke of the Prairie Pothole Conservation Association.

He cautioned that this year’s plans are contingent on whether large gatherings, discouraged during the pandemic, are again allowed come September. The event has attracted as many as 4,000 people in previous years. A final decision on whether or not to go forward will have to be made sometime in late May or early June if vendors and exhibitors are to be lined up in time, he explained.


Dahlke is among those who were concerned this annual event would be lost when the Minnesota Waterfowl Association dissolved last fall. The local Prairie Pothole Chapter of that association hosted Prairie Pothole Days. The tax-exempt status the local chapter enjoyed as part of the association was critical in putting on the event, explained Dahlke.

Financial difficulties and the loss of two chapters triggered the Minnesota Waterfowl Association’s decision to dissolve, and left members of the local chapter at a crossroads. Dahlke said the local members decided to reorganize as an independent nonprofit organization, now known as the Prairie Pothole Conservation Association. The local group has been able to obtain nonprofit status and, with it, the ability to go forward with Prairie Pothole Days.

Another important factor in the decision has been the willingness of people to step forward. The local chapter saw more people attending meetings last year when it put out the call for saving the Prairie Pothole Day tradition, he said.

Dahlke said the local members are hopeful that the support will continue. It takes a lot of hands to organize and host the event. The group has not been able to meet since early in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s impossible to know at this point how much help will be available. But the message is clear: The group appreciates all those willing to lend a hand.

The group is optimistic that conditions with the pandemic will be significantly improved by September to allow things to go forward. The day is geared to be fun and entertaining for individuals and families.

Along with Prairie Potholes Day, the local organization has been involved in many other projects to improve the outdoors and introduce more people to them. The group has been active in a variety of wetland and grassland restoration projects in the area. Each year, the members help youth build wood duck houses at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. It’s also where they host the annual Woodie Camp to introduce young people to outdoor skills and adventures.

The organization is currently looking into participating in a wetland improvement project on the Teal Scurry Wildlife Management Area in Meeker County.


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