Game Fair the pinnacle of places to visit for outdoor enthusiastsWORTHINGTON — Hunters, fishermen, dog owners, shooters of all sorts and general outdoor enthusiasts consider Game Fair the pinnacle of places to visit in early fall.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Hunters, fishermen, dog owners, shooters of all sorts and general outdoor enthusiasts consider Game Fair the pinnacle of places to visit in early fall.
Game Fair is held at the Armstrong Ranch in Ramsey during the two middle weekends in August. It has been held there ever since I can remember. It really is just a few miles west of Anoka. You think when you drive in that you must be going to the State Fair. Everyone has a little red flag and tries to persuade you that they have the very last parking spot available on earth.
I don’t know how many acres it encompasses, but it must be at least 320 acres large. Once in the gate, you are transported to a place that hunters and fishermen would equate to the Mall of America, if you are a hardcore shopper. The admissions are only a few bucks and about half of the people bring a gun (cased) or a dog (leashed) or both. The first time I attended, I had about three hours to spend and left seeing only about 10 percent of what there was to see.
I have been there many times since that initial exposure and continue to have a great time. On the right, as you enter, there is a large field of shooting sports set up. You pay the $4 and shoot a round of sporting clays (25 rounds) with other shooters who you may or may not know. I have made more than a few new friends while participating. There are numerous different shooting activities, and you can easily burn up your entire spending budget on shells over the course of an afternoon.
During that same time, I ran a dog in a few of the dog contests that take place almost all day long for both weekends. I watched the long jumpers go off the end of the dock for an hour and then watched and participated in the speed retrieve contest after that. Dogs were timed on both water retrieves and long-land retrieves, and the fastest won a trophy. These are not big-money stakes events, and any dog can enter. Dogs of every sort were well represented. I did not win but there is always next year.
The grounds are full of places to take in a seminar about your favorite topic. Dog trainers showed the ins and out of many different training protocols. Duck callers showed what it takes to lure them in close, and the pros with all the calling awards show how to blow the tune of a duck or a goose and make a buck while they are at it.
Calling contests went on frequently most of the day and there was always the sound of waterfowl in the air. Bow hunting, bear hunting, turkey hunting and fishing of all sorts were all topics of conversation and seminar presentation. There was a seminar for everyone and anyone. Lots of different dog clubs have booths, so you can check out many different breeds if you are in the market for a new pooch.
Kids and adults can shoot anything, from a slingshot to an air rifle or the newest in archery equipment. The product retailers have a very target-rich environment in Game Fair attendees. It can be said that if it is outdoor-related and you have the cash, it can be bought at this venue. I have pretty good luck getting good deals there, but that depends on your definition of a good deal. Television host Ron Shara is the Master of Ceremonies for the two weekends, and I always enjoy visiting with him.
The food is always an attraction, and the following day normally includes a fasting — just to get back to the pre-visit weight. I missed Game Fair the last two years, but there are special requirements this time around.
There is going to be an open forum at 11:30 a.m. Saturday for the public to interact and ask questions to the members of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. I hope that the public in attendance will take every opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the direction that this council is heading. There has been an immense amount of effort expended in the last four months in order to overlay all of the existing resources plans that have been completed, and then identify the common goals among them. Those plan-goal overlays are now going to be available to the public in summary form.
It is these efforts that will be the basis for the one-year, five-year, 10-year, and 25-year planning goals that will direct the spending of over $75 million per year into Minnesota natural resources.
Game Fair is well worth the trip, and you can still get in on this weekend, starting today. I try to make this an annual trip, like the one to the Sturgis Bike Rally, but there is always more to do than the weekends available to do it in. Hunting season will be in a few weeks. This is one way to make sure that you are ready.