Hundreds of Scouts will soon flock to Glenwood for the 50th Annual Scout Fishing Derby. This year’s Boy and Girl Scout Fishing Derby will be held in Memory of Jim Stradtman, lifelong Boy Scout supporter and early organizer of the Scout Fishing Derby.
Fishing will take place from noon-4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 2 near the Glenwood swimming beach. All Daisies, Brownies, Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorers and Venture Scouts are invited to join the event. The public is welcome to come out, encourage the kids, enjoy watching the activities and get a treat at the concession stand. In addition to the fishing, there will be ice bowling, ice golf putting, volleyball and a snow sculpture contest.
Pope County Museum is presenting an exhibit on the history of the fishing derby. Stop in to warm up on your way to or from the fishing derby. The museum is open 10 a.m. -5:00 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The exhibit will run through February.
Once the activities on the ice wrap up, head out to Minnewaska Area High School for the spaghetti supper sponsored by local Boy Scout Troops. All the visiting scouts will be spending the night at the school, enjoying gym time, movies, swimming and the opportunity to try on scuba gear in the pool. The public is invited to the dinner, served from 5-6:30 p.m. $6 per person, kids under 6 eat for $4.
Then Sunday morning, everyone is invited to the Girl Scout pancake breakfast at Glenwood Lutheran Church from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost is $6 per person, kids under 6 eat for $4.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SCOUT FISHING DERBY
Back in January 1963, Adolph Olson organized a Cub Scout fishing derby in Hunt’s Bay. According to Jim Stradtman’s recollections, Olson wanted to get fathers up & out of their chairs and get them outside with their sons.
That first year 30 scouts and 30 dads participated. Glenwood businesses and the Jaycees provided numerous prizes which were awarded during the day. In addition, the Jaycees gave each one of the participants a Cub Scout Handkerchief. The Pope County Tribune reported that,“Cub Scouts and the dads are very enthusiastic over the derby and it may turn out to be an annual event.”
The following year, the Boy Scouts made the derby a big event. 2,500 Boy Scouts, parents and community members attended the 2 day fishing derby held the first weekend of February. The event was covered in the Sunday Tribune’s Picture Magazine and in Boys’ Life Magazine. The publicity brought even more Boy Scouts the following year. In 1965, approximately 3,000 Boy Scouts registered from all over the upper Midwest and as far away as Texas.
The event has included Girl Scouts since 1972. The Jan 13 headline in the Pope County Tribune declared, “Women’s lib has invaded the Glenwood Scout Fishing Derby.” Girls enthusiastically took to the ice. A total of 1,500 scouts participated that year.
Through the years, the prizes and the actual location of the derby changed several times, but it has always been the first weekend in February on Lake Minnewaska. The fishing derby gave provided Scouts the opportunity to put their winter camping skills to the test. For many years, it was rare if there was not at least one troop spending the entire night out on the lake.
Additional events through the years included sky divers jumping in to officially start the derby, ice golf, and snow sculptures. In 1981 a hot air balloon lift off and a horseshoe tournament were planned, but the fishing derby was snowed out on Saturday. The scouts gathered in the elementary school for the prize drawings. Fishing went on as usual on Sunday, with fewer scouts than usual. 500 attended at least one of the days.
In 2000 the fishing derby again reached national fame when it was covered in “Scouting” Magazine. That year boasted over 1000 participants and nearly 400 fish caught. Then the derby was filmed by KARE 11 in 2002 for Ron Schara’s “Minnesota Bound” program.
Major changes took place in 2007, when the Superbowl moved to the first weekend in February. Fishing would now be a Saturday only event. But through the years, more events have been added to the Saturday night schedule, such as open gym, movies, swimming, “bubble time” and a sleepover at Minnewaska Area High school. These activities are now a large part of the appeal for participating Boy and Girl Scouts.
This year, about 450 scouts are expected. Organizers are proud that this year’s event will be in memory of Jim Stradtman. “Jim was my Scout Master,” recalled organizer Dave Owen, “He was very passionate about the fishing derby and about getting kids out in nature.” Jim’s name has been worked into this year’s fishing derby patch, designed by Sandy O’Brien. O’Brien has designed the official patch for the last 13 years.
All the organizers agree that the best part of the derby is the kids and how excited they are to catch a fish or win a prize at the drawings. The kids look forward to the event all year. Ed Schlegel, leader of an American Heritage Girls troop from Osseo, said, “My son participated for 8 years as a Boy Scout. He enjoyed the event, especially walking around the ice and meeting Scouts from all around the state.”
The “bubble time” event in the MAHS pool is also a big draw for the scouts. They get to strap on a SCUBA tank and practice breathing with it underwater. Schlegel said that his son’s “bubble time” experience inspired him to go get pre-certified in SCUBA diving and go to the Boy Scout high adventure Sea Base. Schlegel’s daughter enjoys the same activity now.
As times change, so do the needs and wishes of the kids and their families. Organizers are seeking input on the future of the fishing derby. Anyone interested in becoming involved in shaping the future of the fishing derby should contact Curt and Susie Anderson 634-0548, Kristi Anderson 424-0867 or Kathy Jacobs 554-2927.