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Entertainment-filled Outdoor Fest replaces traditional banquet as Viking Sportsmen’s big fundraiser

Day-long event set for July 31 at the Alexandria Shooting Park.

Chris Kleine / Viking Sportsmen president

The Viking Sportsmen are hosting a new event in Alexandria on July 31 that will offer a day of outdoor events for adults while raising money for local projects that the outdoor organization helps fund and put together around the Douglas County area.

Instead of its traditional banquet that has been going on for more than 30 years, the Viking Sportsmen are offering a variety of ticket packages for people to attend their first-ever Outdoor Fest the last Saturday in July at the Alexandria Shooting Park. It’s an entertainment-filled day for people in the outdoors, and the idea stemmed from the Viking Sportsmen having to cancel their annual banquet due to the pandemic in 2020.

Questions lingered into the 2021 banquet season that usually comes in the spring for outdoor organizations. Would the Viking Sportsmen be able to hold an indoor banquet with the pandemic lingering on? If so, at what capacity?

“At one point during conversations I believe we would’ve been limited to less than 100 people, and in a typical year the banquet turns out around 300,” Viking Sportsmen president Chris Kleine said. “It started as just an idea as some of us were standing around after one of our board meetings. It definitely wasn’t broken, but it was time to look at something else after 35 years of banquets. We are taking a leap of faith and committed to thinking outside the box and putting together an event that can draw 3-4 times or more than our traditional crowd, which equates to additional dollars and that much more of an impact in our local communities.”

The cost for ticket packages ranges from $20 for a single entry ticket to a $1,000 platinum package (valued at $1,500) for a group of 10. There are multiple options between those prices for those coming as an individual or as a group.


Money raised from this event will go toward projects such as the annual Youth Outdoor Activity Day (set for Aug. 29 this year), wildlife food plots (over 100 acres planted in 2020), walleye, brown and rainbow trout stocking programs and financial support for the District 206 archery, trap shooting and fishing teams, along with the local Let’s Go Fishing chapter that helps get seniors outdoors through fishing and sight-seeing trips on area lakes.

Outdoor Fest will offer a full day of activities. It starts at 10 a.m. when gates open. A trap shooting tournament starts at 11 a.m. There will be food vendors, a cash bar (Depot Express and Carlos Creek Winery), 3D archery, and raffles with 30-plus guns and other prices.

The afternoon includes a bean bag tournament, live entertainment, a general raffle and a silent auction. Live music by the band Coyote Wild will play from 7-10 p.m.

Kleine said the committee discussed in depth how they would run the event with shooting sports involved and alcohol also being served at the park.

“We’re following the guidance of (Alexandria Shooting Park owner) Tom (Townsend),” Kleine said. “He said, ‘We’ve had alcohol served here before during those types of events, and there’s a zero tolerance policy.’ If you’re consuming alcohol, you’re not partaking in the (shooting) events. Part of that was with the scheduling. The trap tournament starts at 11 a.m. The food vendors, the bar, they don’t open up until noon. That was the thought behind getting that going in the morning so people aren’t sitting around until 3, 4 o’clock in the afternoon.”

Hosting an event like this as a primary fundraiser for the year required a lot of work and taking a bit of a risk with the amount of money the group has invested into the day. Kleine said Alomere Health and Bell Bank both came to the Viking Sportsmen wanting to co-sponsor the event.

Board members for the Viking Sportsmen are hopeful that Outdoor Fest will be well attended and something that the group can continue to offer for the community into the future. Kleine said they have not yet seen a huge number of ticket sales, but he’s hopeful that will change over the final weeks as the group markets Outdoor Fest through more avenues.

“We have committed significant resources to make sure we put together a good product,” Kleine said. “Our committee members have been running ragged, reaching out to vendors, making sure we have entertainment, a stage, organizing trap and bean bag tournaments, sourcing trash and bathroom receptacles.


“All this is going on while we are also preparing for Youth Outdoor Activity Day less than a month later, which draws approximately 4,000 people to the same venue. We would be very pleased to continue this event and hope it proves to be a success and continues to grow year over year. We have had a ton of positive feedback from people who are experiencing burnout from the traditional fundraising mechanisms. Now it's time to see what kind of response we get.”

Outdoor Fest Information

Ticket packages, along with a full schedule and additional information on the first-ever Outdoor Fest hosted by the Viking Sportsmen can be found at www.vikingsportsmen.org . Contact Chris Kleine at (320) 491-4135 or Tim Olson at (320) 766-2650 with questions.

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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