Newspaper people, by nature, are a skeptical bunch. Dispatch staffers didn't give the Jaycees' idea of an ice fishing tournament fund-raiser much chance of catching on 10 years ago. How many people would brave sub-zero temperatures to sit on the ice and fish for prizes? No way,
we thought. Newspaper coverage was puny that first year.
But the idea clicked. And now the officials of the $100,000 Ice Fish Extravaganza set for Saturday at Gull Lake just might draw a record 10,000 anglers, which would be fitting for the 10th annual event.
Over the years, Dispatch staffers finally jumped on the bandwagon. Coverage has been extensive. And it's noteworthy that a Photos of the Century project conducted nationwide by The Associated Press includes an aerial photo from The Dispatch showing the Extravaganza throng out of the past.
But there's more to the Extravaganza than the publicity, which has included photos in the National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines, and the economic boost that thousands of anglers are bound to give the area for one January weekend each year.
There's something even more powerful than the fact that the Extravaganza provides the lakes area with another banner tourism event. You can add the ice fishing to go along with the Fourth of July, the Christmas parade and the deer and fishing season openers. These are all festival-type events that are good for drawing visitors and good for the locals who grouse there is nothing to do around here. Some communities are proud they have only one major festival a year.
What the Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza is doing is bringing a variety of non-profit groups together. From Sertoma to the Brainerd High School a capella choir groups will be out on the ice selling everything from subs to hot chocolate to the hungry, and cold, anglers.
Yes, the winners in the Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza may be the people who catch eelpouts and other fish and win trucks and snowmobiles. But the bigger winners are the charities like Camp Confidence that benefit from the cold cash.
So bring on the first school of ice anglers of the 21st century. But, you know, you have to wonder what the poor shivering fish must be thinking swimming under that Gull icecap and seeing 10,000 lines dangling through little holes drilled in Hole in the Day Bay.
Provided by the Associated Press
"'Stephen, what in the world are you doing?'' asked the judge faced with a ridiculous lawsuit that seeks to silence Americans who oppose unlimited logging in the nation's forests. Good question.
This symbolic lawsuit was a curiosity when it was introduced. Now that a small group of loggers and their Twin Cities attorney, Stephen Young, have had their day in court, it's a joke.
These zealots believe that those who oppose unlimited logging are beholden to a pagan religion and that the U.S. Forest Service timber-cutting policies have been infiltrated, in effect establishing a government religion. They want those who seek to influence or set national policies to be required to prove they act for nonreligious reasons.
Perhaps in a totalitarian regime, not in the United States.
They seem to have forgotten that all the people of the United States, regardless of their religious beliefs, have a right to petition their government.
They seem to have forgotten that the U.S. Forest Service ... has a duty to ensure wise stewardship of national lands so current and future generations may enjoy their bounty and beauty.
National forest policies ... unavoidably reflect a balance of contending values.
The judge registered Young's incredible claims with humorous questioning and closed the hearing in less than an hour. After due deliberation, the suit should be dismissed, to go down in the annals of zany legal cases.
-- Duluth News-Tribune
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