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In the Know column: Trap shooting event packs economic punch

This year an estimated $3.1 million dollars will be spent in the Alexandria area because of the Minnesota Trap Shooting Championship June 13-21.

EP In The Know
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Before I talk about the world’s largest shooting sport event, I’d like to say something about one of our area’s finest resources. As the executive director at Explore Alexandria Tourism, it’s my job to promote and market all the assets this community has to offer. I talk about 300+ lakes, the biking/hiking trails, downtown shopping, Big Ole, the museums, etc. These are all great things. One thing that’s more difficult to market is the heart and generosity of the people who live here. The recent storms brought the worst out of mother nature, but the absolute best out of people. I’ve seen so many tragic situations that resulted from the two tornadoes, AND the widespread straight-line winds and excess rain. But you’ve come through, ready to help!

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Joe Korkowski

I’ve seen those acts of kindness and now I’m asking you to share a little of that spirit of togetherness with people from all over Minnesota. One of the first meetings I had as director was with John Hubener of USA Clay Target League. He’s the guy in charge of orchestrating the Trap Shooting Championships June 13-21 right here in Alexandria. I’ve interviewed so many people as a reporter, so I first asked about some of the small details. The teams with less student/athlete counts begin on day one (June 13) on up to the schools with the largest trap shooter teams on day nine (June 21). Competition begins at 8:30 each morning, finishing around 6 p.m. each evening. I was asked to make sure Alexandria is ready to handle 25,000 additional people during the tournament. I know a big part of being ready for all those folks comes down to communication. Some of their basic needs will be lodging and food. They’ll also need ice, bottled water, gasoline, cash (ATMs), lawn chairs, umbrellas, sunglasses, etc.
If you average it out there will be approximately 2,777 additional people a day in the Alexandria area. It could mean a little longer wait to get seated at a restaurant, a couple more people at the stop lights or the registers. It also translates into an enormous boost to our economy. This year an estimated $3.1 million dollars will be spent in the area because of the tournament. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID, making this year the 10th Trap Shooting Championships held in Alexandria. Since that first year in 2012, the Alexandria area has received a total of more than $16.3 million dollars in economic impact.
As a person in the tourism industry, I realize the huge opportunity this presents. I’d love them to return in the fall or winter when they have more time. Some may drive around the area and set their sights on actually moving here. As my friend, Jake Capistrant, always says, “It’s all about the experience.” Together we can provide them and all tourists with that genuine kindness we possess.
John Hubener coordinates competitions all over the country. We’re not guaranteed to always have this event in our community, but I hope we do — not just for the financial reasons. Despite the fact that thousands of kids will be holding a gun and shooting live ammunition, this sport is the safest one around. It is also inclusive. Organizers have opened their arms to people of all abilities and found ways to let them not only compete but be part of a real team.
As part of our welcome, Explore Alex will have a large booth at the range, all nine days of the competition. We plan to staff it with a variety of community leaders: city staff and council members, as well as Douglas County, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber, AAEDC and Explore Alexandria staff and board members.
If you own a business, I encourage you to put a sign up that welcomes the trap shooters and their families to town. Put a few more people on staff for those days and stock up on needed items. These little gestures could help these visitors see the true Alexandria spirit we’ve been blessed to see in action so vividly over the last month.

Joe Korkowski of Alexandria is the executive director at Explore Alexandria Tourism. "In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.