How much work is it to get ready for an ice fishing tournament?
For the volunteers putting together the 10th annual Brainerd Jaycees $100,000 Ice Fishing Extragavanza, it has been three days of fighting wind and cold to get ready for Saturday's event.
Preparation for the Extravaganza began Wednesday when event volunteers measured and marked the boundaries of the event.
Thursday, about 15 volunteers struggled to get the various tents, signs and stage put together and in place. Ed Vobejda, co-chair of the ice Extravaganza and chairman of the board for the Jaycees, said each tent takes about a half-hour to an hour to put up, and a lot of the time they fought the wind while doing it.
Today marks the busiest preparation day. The volunteers have to finish setting up signs around the Extragavanza area, bring in the prizes, set up the sound system and decorate the area.
Though today is the busiest day, it is also the day when most volunteers are able to make it out to Hole-in-the-Day Bay on Gull Lake to work the event.
"It's easier for volunteers to get one day off, rather than three," Bob Slaybaugh of the Brainerd Jaycees said Thursday. "That's why we try to get most work done in one day."
The longest single activity today will be drilling holes, Slaybaugh said. To mark the holes, members of the Brainerd Snowdeos snowmobile club drive next to one another in one direction and then another to create a grid. Holes are drilled where the snowmobile tracks cross. Slaybaugh said between 18,000 and 20,000 holes will be drilled for the tournament.
It is a daunting task, he said, taken up by 60 to 75 people using 50 augers donated by Strikemaster.
Drilling today means holes may freeze over during the night before the competition, but Slaybaugh said drilling a day before makes for better fishing.
"We give the lake a chance to settle down," he said. "It lets the fish back into the area."
Vobejda said spending three days preparing for the Extravaganza each year is worth the trouble, and he plans to keep coming out to volunteer as long as he can.
"It's gotten to be a way of life," he said. "I fished (the tournament) the first year and joined the Jaycees after that and have been helping ever since."
Vobejda is expecting a big year, as are all of the Jaycees. In fact, if the event draws 10,000 people as expected, Ian Olness, chair and president of the Jaycees, has sworn he will shave his head.
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