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Carvers coming to Alexandria

Above, Evansville’s Barb and Paul Lundeen are pictured with some of their own decoys that they have carved in recent years. Paul carves the decoys and Barb paints them with a folk-art pattern. The couple has helped organize the Rudy Zwieg Decoy Show the last five years. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)1 / 3
The Lundeens own some of Alexandria native Rudy Zwieg’s work, including this carving that Zwieg made in the late 1990s. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)2 / 3
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Evansville’s Paul and Barb Lundeen are self-proclaimed amateurs in the world of fish decoy carvings, but their appreciation for the craft runs deep.

It’s why every year for the last five years they have been willing to take on the duties of organizing an event that brings some of the best carvers from Minnesota and neighboring states to Alexandria in March. The Rudy Zwieg Decoy and Sporting Collectible Show is marking its 10-year anniversary this Saturday where almost 80 vendors will be on hand to show, trade and sell their carvings of every kind.

“We’re willing to take the time and effort to put it on,” Barb said. “Everyone is so busy. It takes a lot of work to get it going, and we have the ability to do that.”

The Lundeens are part of the Mid-State chapter of the Minnesota Dark House and Angling Association. The local chapter has about 150 members and has hosted the annual show for a decade. In its beginnings, the show was primarily for fish-decoy carvers. Now it has grown to include carvings that appeal to a broad range of visitors.

“We’re way beyond just spearing decoys now,” Paul said. “It’s duck decoys, shore birds, sporting collectibles. As long as it’s made out of wood or handcrafted one way or another, we hope to have them there.”

Those additions helped draw more than 2,000 people to last year’s show at the RCC. The crowd included more than just those with a passion

for spearing, but those spearers will always be at the heart of this event.

The popularity of the show has grown along with the sport over the last decade. The event started at the Alexandria VFW before moving to the Holiday Inn and later to Fat Daddy’s. All those venues were too small, so they settled into the RCC.

“I think for a while spearing was kind of frowned upon,” Paul said. “It was almost banned for a while, and I think now people can see it’s great family entertainment.”

The Lundeens have been married almost five years, but have shared that passion for spearing for longer than that. It wasn’t until recent years, though, that they worked on making their own decoys. Paul does the carving, while Barb paints them to put the finishing touches on them.

“There is always that inherent value of this is something I did myself and it’s working,” Paul said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just the satisfaction of making one yourself and using it.”

Their message to those who want to but have never made their own decoys is to try it. Decoys range from folk-style art to extremely realistic.

“There’s so many good ones out there, so many good carvers,” Paul said. “Some are so realistic.”

Many of those decoys will end up as décor in someone’s house. The ones used to draw in northerns don’t necessarily have to be beautiful, and like lures in angling, the ones that work best often depend on the day.

“One of our best ones, a dairy farmer from Osakis made,” Barb said. “It’s not even sleek like a fish. It’s like a square and it’s pink. That has been one of our best decoys.”

How the decoy is weighted, the curve of the tail and the placement of the fins will all determine how tight or how wide it swims. That too depends on personal preference.

“I like Buzz Lightyear, to infinity and beyond,” Barb said. “I like it when the decoys go where I can’t see them for a while.”

There will be decoys of every shape and color for people to purchase and view this Saturday at the RCC. It’s an opportunity for spear fishermen to reminisce about the season that just was and stock up for the seasons yet to come.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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