Willmar Lakes Area to Host 2018 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener

State of Minnesota
Media contact: Alyssa Hayes (Ebel), Explore Minnesota, (O) 651-757-1857, (C) 651-276-8738, alyssa.hayes@state.mn.us, Twitter: @ExploreMN_PR


Willmar Lakes Area to Host 2018 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener

ST. PAUL, Minn. (May 13, 2017) —Next year’s Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener will be held May 10-13 in Spicer on Green Lake, the largest lake in the Willmar Lakes Area. This will be the second time in the history of the event that it will be held on Green Lake.

Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism promotion office, organizes this event each year in coordination with a host community. The 71st annual Governor’s Fishing Opener will be hosted collaboratively by the communities of the Willmar Lakes Area, including Willmar, Spicer and New London, and smaller communities within Kandiyohi County. Green Lake last hosted the event in 1996.

“In the beautiful Willmar Lakes Area, Spicer’s Green Lake offers terrific fishing and other great recreational activities,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “I thank the community leaders for hosting this great Minnesota tradition, and I look forward to opening next year’s summer fishing season on Green Lake.”

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports substantial numbers of eating-size walleyes on the popular 5,560-acre lake, mainly in the 15- to 19-inch range, as well as good numbers of smallmouth and largemouth bass, northern pike, crappies, bluegill and more.

About two hours west of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, the Willmar Lakes Area has more than 360 lakes in addition to Green Lake, many offering fishing, boating and swimming. Further recreation includes hiking at Sibley State Park, easy biking along the 22-mile Glacial Lakes State Trail, plus dozens of city and county parks, many with picnic grounds, sandy beaches, fishing piers and boat ramps.

“The Willmar Lakes Area is a real recreational gem of southern Minnesota,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota. “Our office is incredibly excited to work with this friendly, energetic community on one of our biggest cooperative promotional events of the year.”

“The Willmar Lakes Area is honored to be selected as the host site for the 2018 Governor’s Fishing Opener,” said Willmar Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Beth Fischer. “We look forward to the opportunity to showcase our beautiful lake country and will have fun events planned in the communities of Willmar, Spicer and New London.”

The Governor’s Fishing Opener has been a tradition in Minnesota since 1948. The event was designed to promote the development of Minnesota’s recreation industry, and in recent years, it has served as an iconic kick-off celebration for the summer tourism season. Travel and tourism generate $14.4 billion in leisure and hospitality gross sales in Minnesota annually.

The Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener provides the host community with an opportunity to highlight local fishing and other travel activities, attractions and points of interest. Media from throughout the Midwest region attend the event, resulting in significant publicity for the host community and Minnesota.

The Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener is coordinated by Explore Minnesota, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the host community. More information about the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener is available at mngovernorsopener.com.

As the state’s tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state’s tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. A council of representatives from the state’s tourism industry strongly connects Explore Minnesota with tourism businesses and organizations.

Tourism is a $14.4 billion industry in Minnesota, and a key sector of the state’s economy. The leisure and hospitality industry—a major provider of tourism services—employs more than 260,000 workers, representing 11 percent of Minnesota’s private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates 17 percent of the state’s sales tax revenues. Minnesota welcomes nearly 70 million domestic and international travelers annually.

See what’s happening right now, only in Minnesota, at exploreminnesota.com, and join the movement via @exploreminn on Twitter and Pinterest, or @exploreminnesota on Instagram and Facebook, using #OnlyinMN.

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