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Governor's Fishing Opener to shine spotlight on region

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The ripple effect of hosting the 67th annual Governor’s Fishing Opener will send waves across the region for years to come, organizers say.

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The Brainerd lakes area will be home to the opener on May 8-11 on Gull Lake, with headquarters at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.

It will pull in up to $2 million in marketing for the lakes area, organizers say. But it’s the new relationships and partnerships that will have an impact for years to come, said event co-chair Steve Mau.

“There are so many different groups in the community coming together that haven’t had to or weren’t willing to work together in the past,” he said. “Now they’re coming together for a common cause. That will bear fruit for years to come.”

That’s perhaps the magic of the fishing opener.

Organizers are optimistic that Gull Lake will be clear of ice by the big day. They’re hoping the cold, rainy weather will disappear, too.

Other years the Brainerd lakes area has hosted the event include: 1989, 1993, 2001 and 2008.

Each time the fishing opener is hosted locally, it shines a spotlight on the lakes area, said event co-chair Frank Soukup.

“That’s individual businesses and outdoor recreation and fishing as a whole,” he said. “You’re bringing that much focus here and it’s shared among all the communities.”

About 100 media representatives — print, television and radio — are being pulled in from across the Midwest and Canada.

Journalists will have the chance to ride the mountain bike trails of the Cuyuna area or the paved Paul Bunyan State Trail. Media representatives will have an opportunity to test out a race car at the Brainerd International Raceway or shoot an arrow at Mills Indoor Shooting and Archery Center, golf at one of many area courses, and eat at several area restaurants.

It’s those exposures that will extend the Brainerd lakes area’s reach far beyond the Midwest, Soukup said.

“Anything we can do to help the Brainerd lakes area stand out from some other resort areas works as a plus for us,” he said.

About 550 attendees are expected for the main event Saturday, while more than 5,000 are expected to attend the community picnic Friday.

It’s been a year in the making, now with about 450 community members involved with organizing and volunteering,

It’s the relationships built in organizing the fishing opener that will “tap into making something happen later,” Mau said.

It might be working together to bring a new business into town, or working to make one stay, or in promoting schools.

“Those things just don’t happen,” Mau said. “You need pre-existing relationships to make that happen.”

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.

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at jessie.perrine@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.

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