KATIE ZERR: Community plays role in tournament
Another successful Mobridge Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Committee ice fishing tournament is in the books, and according to one of the committee members, the event is a tribute to volunteers and to the people in this area.
Jesse Konold said that one of the reasons so many people return to fish the tournament year after year is the manner in which they are treated while they are here. From the hundreds of volunteers who help organize, assist and entertain the anglers to those they encounter throughout the community, the anglers know they are appreciated.
That is a tribute to a community that knows an event of this scale in Mobridge in January is not only a boost for our tourism industry, but to everyone in Mobridge.
Economically the event brings outside money into this community. Every dollar that is spent in town generates more money here, not just for the owners of businesses where the money is spent, but for the community as a whole. Each time those dollars are circulated in our community, from the waiting and bartending staffs who spend their tips, to the extra sales tax collected in business, the money continues to make an impact in our economy.
It is not just the money circulated during the event. This tournament has a huge impact on this community’s reputation for being a fishing destination. Anglers travel from distant states (this year there were anglers from Tennessee and Texas) and even from outside of the United States to fish on Lake Oahe.
Even if the fish didn’t bite in all of the areas of the lake this year, those anglers who came through the line at the weigh-ins Saturday evening were smiling and said they had a great day on the ice.
A big part of that is the friendliness of the locals who fished alongside of them and those tournament volunteers who came out to visit during the day.
It was a like a mini city out on the ice with people riding ATVs and snowmobiles along the beaten tracks and planes and helicopters flying over. There was a sunbather, people skating on a rink cleared of snow and even some golfers chipping over mounds of snow onto a makeshift putting green on the ice.
It is not just the actual fishing that keeps bringing people to Mobridge in some of the worst possible weather as it has been in past years. It is the event as a whole.
From the amazing amount of prizes that are given away, and the professional manner in which the tournament is run that makes them want to come back, whether the forecast is minus 20 with blowing snow or 40 degrees with no ice on which to set a shack.
This comes full circle back to the volunteers. Committee members work year-round to create a fun and relaxing atmosphere that appeals to anglers.
Each year they take comments from the participants and tweak the things that need fixing and add or subtract others. It is an ever-growing event with more and more corporate sponsors each year.
That is another element of a successful event. When there are corporations waiting in line to get on board, it is because they want their products and their company’s name associated with the event.
Hundreds of area residents volunteer to help behind the scenes with set-up, organization, selling refreshments, directing traffic and getting the anglers safely and quickly checked in and on the ice on Saturday morning.
For those who have not experienced what has become a huge event for our community, this area and for South Dakota, you should take time to see what is happening.
Whether it is a drive during the day to see the anglers on the ice, or to watch the weigh-ins or participate in the expo, there are plenty of chances to see the how large this tournament has become.
As with any event, it is never just hearts and flowers and stumbles do occur, but experience shows this tournament has grown in reputation and in value to this area, throughout the years.
It is a tribute, along with other major events in our communities, to those who volunteer their time to make North Central South Dakota a great place to live.