In place of the traditional banquet that has been going on for more than 30 years, the last Saturday in July at the Alexandria Shooting Park, the Viking Sportsmen are offering a variety of ticket packages to attend their very first outdoor festival. It’s a day of fun for people in the outdoors, and the idea came from the Viking athletes who had to cancel their annual banquet due to the 2020 pandemic.
Questions remained in the 2021 banquet season, which for outdoor organizations usually takes place in spring. Could the Viking athletes hold an indoor banquet while the pandemic continues? If so, with what capacity?
“At one point during the talks, I believe we were limited to less than 100 people, and in a typical year the banquet takes about 300 people,” said Chris Kleine, president of Viking Sportsmen. “It started as an idea when some of us were standing around after one of our board meetings. It definitely wasn’t broken, but after 35 years of banquet it was time to check out something else. We take a leap of faith and commit to thinking outside the box and putting together an event that can attract 3-4 times or more than our traditional audience, which equates to extra dollars and a much greater impact in our local communities. ”
Ticket package costs range from $ 20 for a single entry ticket to a platinum package of $ 1,000 (valued at $ 1,500) for a group of 10 people. There are several options between these prices for individuals or groups.
The money from this event will go towards projects such as the annual Youth Outdoor Activity Day (which is scheduled for August 29th this year), wild fodder plots (over 100 acres planted in 2020), pikeperch, brown and rainbow trout stocking programs and financial Support will be used for archery, traps, and fishing teams of the 206 District, along with the local Let’s Go Fishing chapter, which helps seniors get outdoors through fishing and sightseeing tours of the lakes in the area.
Outdoor Fest offers a full day of activities. It starts at 10 a.m. when the gates open. A trap shooting tournament starts at 11:00 AM. There are food stalls, a bar (Depot Express and Carlos Creek Winery), 3D archery, and raffles with over 30 weapons and other prizes.
The afternoon includes a beanbag tournament, live entertainment, a general raffle and a silent auction. Live music by the band Coyote Wild plays from 7-10 p.m.
Kleine said the committee had discussed at length how the event would be carried out with shooting sports and liquor in the park.
“We follow instructions from Tom (Townsend), the owner of Alexandria Shooting Park,” said Kleine. “He said: ‘We have already been served alcohol at events like this, and there is a zero tolerance policy.’ If you consume alcohol, do not take part in the (shooting) events. This also included scheduling. The trap tournament starts at 11 a.m. The food stalls, the bar, they don’t open until noon. That was the idea of getting it going in the morning so that people don’t sit around until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. ”
Hosting such an event as the primary fundraiser for the year took a lot of work and taking some risk with the amount of money the group invested in the day. Kleine said Alomere Health and Bell Bank both came to Viking Sportsmen to help sponsor the event.
The board members of the Viking Sportsmen hope that the Outdoor Fest will be well attended and that the group will continue to serve the community in the future. Kleine said they haven’t seen a large number of ticket sales yet, but he hopes that will change in the past few weeks as the group marketed the outdoor festival in more avenues.
“We have devoted significant resources to making sure we are putting together a good product,” said Kleine. “Our committee members are in rags, have reached out to the vendors, made sure we have entertainment and a stage, organized trap and beanbag tournaments, and procured rubbish and toilet bins.
“All of this is happening as we also prepare for Youth Outdoor Activity Day less than a month later, which draws around 4,000 people to the same place. We would be very happy to continue this event and hope that it will be a success and grow from year to year. We have received a lot of positive feedback from people who are burned out through traditional fundraising mechanisms. Now is the time to see what kind of reaction we get. “
Information about the outdoor festival
For ticket packages, as well as a full schedule and additional information on the Viking Sportsmen’s very first outdoor festival, please visit www.vikingsportsmen.org. Contact Chris Kleine at (320) 491-4135 or Tim Olson at (320) 766-2650 with questions.