RUSHMORE — Looking out from Scott Rall's rural Rushmore hunting property, the horizon was lined with vehicles.
Rall played host to a law enforcement appreciation event Saturday afternoon that drew about 70 guests, including officers and their families from the Worthington Police Department, Nobles County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota State Patrol Region 7, DNR Conservation Officers and law enforcement instructors from Minnesota West Community & Technical College.
It took about two months, 20 donors and 30 volunteers to pull off an event of this magnitude, Rall explained.
The afternoon and evening gathering included a seemingly endless stream of soda, water, beer and liquor; a cornhole tournament; a trap shooting competition; and culminated in a steak dinner.
"I’m blown away by the generosity of all those who contributed to make this Steak Fry event happen," Worthington Police Chief Troy Appel said. "With all of the national negativity surrounding law enforcement these days, it’s so reassuring to have such a great group of people work together to show their appreciation for our local law enforcement and families."
Nobles County Sheriff Ryan Kruger echoed Appel's sentiments, adding that it was great for the officers to hang out with each other in an informal setting.
"We don't always get to do that because of scheduling," he said.
Cornhole required a complex bracket, which volunteer Steve Johnson expertly managed throughout the day. In the final round, Appel and retired WPD officer Kirk Schelhaas faced NCSO Deputy Ryan Muehe and WPD Officer Jacob Refsland. A close game eventually had them tied at 20 points, with 21 needed to win. After a tense round of zero points, Appel landed the bag on the board, bringing him and Schelhaas to victory.
For winning, Schelaas and Appel were given a $50 gift card to Hy-Vee and four drink tokens to Forbidden Barrel Brewing Company. Refsland and Muehe received second-place prizes of a to-go coffee mug each with the Pheasants Forever logo.
For the trap competition, participants were allowed to practice as much as they wanted before their competitive round. When they said the word, volunteer Scott Hain threw a single, then a double, then a triple set of clay pigeons. They could fire as many times as needed and were scored on the raw number of clays they hit, out of six.
Two shooters got a perfect score, WPD Officer Jake Walker and DNR Conservation Officer Andrew Dierks. They each competed in another single-double-triple round — Dierks came out the winner and received a $50 Hy-Vee gift card. Walker got four drink tokens to Forbidden Barrel and the to-go coffee mugs were given by random drawing to volunteer Steve Gnoza.
Meanwhile, volunteer Brent Rossow stood over the grill and carefully brought dozens of steaks and hot dogs to perfection. They were served with potatoes, corn on the cob and garlic toast.
Following the meal, Rall toasted the officers present.
"It's been a wonderful day, and I attribute that to the work that you do," he said.
Officers were thankful for the opportunity to relax and unwind from their jobs.
"It's good to see that we do have support from our communities," Kruger said. "We've always known that."
"This was so well organized and fun," Appel said. "I can’t thank the donors enough and want them to know their positive support and participation in today’s event is a morale booster for all of us, at a time when we need it more than ever."