It’s bigger, it’s better and it’s back.

The Brainerd Public Schools Foundation’s annual “Big Event” fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 6, however, will be virtual for the first time ever because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the theme of “Hook, Line and Sinker: Catch and Release Generosity.”

“The Brainerd Public Schools Foundation is a nonprofit that exists to enhance opportunities for the students of the Brainerd public schools and we do that through scholarships,” said Jessica Gangl, executive director of the foundation.

Jessica Gangl
Jessica Gangl

The foundation’s stated mission is to enhance opportunities for quality academics, arts, activities and athletics for the students of the Brainerd Public School District.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“The Big Event was started as a way to create recognition and awareness of the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation in addition to raising money for the grants programs and for operations that we do,” Gangl said.

RELATED: Viewpoint 181: Brainerd Public Schools Foundation is pedaling forward with opportunities

Billed tongue-in-cheek as a “whopper of an (un)event,” the eighth annual online fishing-themed program will start at 7 p.m. followed by trivia at 7:30 p.m. and live raffles drawing at 7:45 p.m. from Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake, the site of last year’s fundraiser.

“Typically, when we’re in person, we encourage people to dress like the theme, so last year the theme was ‘2020 Vision, the Future is Bright,’ and so everybody wore bright colors and dazzling-type things — sparkles, you know — anything bright,” Gangl said.

Attendees of the 2020 Big Event to support the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation at Cragun’s Legacy Pavilion Golf Course enjoy dinner. Submitted photo / Brainerd Public Schools Foundation
Attendees of the 2020 Big Event to support the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation at Cragun’s Legacy Pavilion Golf Course enjoy dinner. Submitted photo / Brainerd Public Schools Foundation

The 2021 Big Event auction sponsored by CTC will open at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, and close at 8 p.m. Feb. 6. Auction item donations such as specialty crafts, technology and experiences are being accepted by calling the foundation at 218-454-6921.

“The ‘Hook, Line and Sinker: Catch and Release Generosity’ theme ties into what we’re trying to do, which is to reel in donors, so we can release their generosity back to our schools,” Gangl said of the 6,700 students in the district.

ONLY 62 "Party in a Box" tickets remaining for the 2021 Big (un)Event!! VIP is SOLD OUT! What do I get if I buy a...

Posted by Brainerd Public Schools Foundation on Friday, January 29, 2021

Those interested in the fundraiser can “reel in” a “party in a box” and raffle tickets that may be picked up 12:30-6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Cub Foods in Baxter, a drive-thru pickup of prepaid party boxes and reserved raffles tickets.

“Each of the ticket holders this year will get what we’re calling a ‘party in a box.’ And in that box, there’ll be a keychain foam bobber like you’d put on a boat key or something. There’ll be some gummy worms in there in a little bag that says ‘bag of bait’ to make it fun,” she said.

Mike Worden (left), Willy Severson, Amber Schlegel and Brook Mallak volunteer at the 2020 Big Event to support the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation at Cragun’s Legacy Pavilion Golf Course.  Submitted photo / Brainerd Public Schools Foundation
Mike Worden (left), Willy Severson, Amber Schlegel and Brook Mallak volunteer at the 2020 Big Event to support the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation at Cragun’s Legacy Pavilion Golf Course. Submitted photo / Brainerd Public Schools Foundation

The “Hook, Line and Sinker: Catch and Release Generosity” theme is just a way to get people excited about the fundraiser, which has the goal of raising $60,000, according to Gangl; previous “Big Event” themes include a golfing theme and a game theme.

“When you watch the virtual program, the emcee and myself will be in a fish house pretending to be fishing,” Gangl said.

One of the foundation’s goals last year was to raise enough funds to purchase 2,020 high-interest books for kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms, and $80,000 was raised, according to Gangl. CJK Group offered a dollar for dollar match for up to $1,000 toward that initiative.

“Our raffles this year are all fish-related, so we have a bobber pole and we have a lure raffle,” Gangl said of this year’s fishing theme. “Typically, our event would draw 300-plus participants to be on site with us where we have a nice sit-down dinner, program, auction, games and raffles.”

Party in a box ticket holders will receive a $25 gift card to a local participating restaurant instead.

RELATED: Viewpoint 181: When life gives us lemons...we make lemonade

“Ticket holders choose the restaurant, they get some swag and BPSF-type information and materials in the box … so basically we’re trying to recreate our annual event but that they can log in from wherever they are — from home, from their fish house,” she said.

More than 200 tickets have been sold as of Thursday, Jan. 28, according to a post on the foundation’s Facebook page.

RELATED: Low enrollment drives Brainerd Public Schools budget deficit

“We’re fortunate in that we actually have more sponsors of the event this year than we’ve ever had, so I think a lot of the business community wants to make sure that our schools stay strong. Our community hinges on our education system.”

For more information about the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation’s “Big Event” fundraiser and how to participate in the event, visit bpsf.org.



FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL.