Ice Fishing Extravaganza Has Strong Impact On Brainerd Community
The Brainerd Lakes area is known for its many resorts and lakes that help them thrive as a summer tourist destination. But summer isn’t the only time that visitors matter to the area.
“In the winter time, we need tourism, too,” said Brainerd Chamber President Matt Kilian.
That is where the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza comes in. As the contest brings thousands of people to the area, it gives local businesses a boost right when they need it most.
“We have a lot of heads in beds, there is a lot of people at our different lodging facilities, our retailers are doing awesome business this weekend, as is our restaurants,” Kilian said.
Located right near the action on Highway 371 is S & W Bait Shop.
“Our whole winter business is reliant on this Extravaganza,” said Sherree Wicktor, owner of S & W Bait Shop.
Wicktor said that with extreme weather this year, they have been extra slow and that the contest couldn’t have come at a better time.
“This should practically save our winter this year,” Wicktor said.
The bait shop will be open for 24 hours straight as the anglers head into town.
“We get a lot of people that just come up, they want to talk, they want information, they want to look around and we end up with usually someone in here all night long,” Wicktor said.
Over the weekend, Highway 371 will be backed up between Brainerd and Nisswa as traffic moves to just one single lane. If you are planning to attend the Ice Fishing Extravaganza, they recommend that you take the shuttle bus.
“Because in the contest area, the two lane does go down to one lane and we keep one lane open only for bus traffic for the shuttling that is going back and forth,” said Capt. Scott Goddard from the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office anticipates many locals will drive by to see the contest in action, but if you plan to, just be prepared to go slow.
“Take your time and if you have to drive through the area just bring your patience with you,” said Capt. Goddard.
Whether you are participating in the fun or just along for the ride, the Brainerd Lakes Community is proud to host the Ice Fishing Extravaganza.
“It helps with summer tourism, it helps with winter tourism, but beyond any of that, it helps people make memories right here in the Brainerd Lakes Area,” Kilian said.