Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz showed up at the Bigwood Event Center in Fergus Falls on Friday morning anticipating a big weekend.
Not only was Walz was the main attraction of the 17th annual Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener, but he was back in Fergus Falls where his colleague, Ben Schierer, serves as mayor.
“This is an opportunity for us to highlight and it’s one of the great privileges,” Walz said when his turn came to speak at the Big Buck Brunch. “It was a year ago this week that I was given the privilege of a lifetime to be the governor of Minnesota and one of the incredible things is being invited to communities all across the state and see the unique attributes we have. The strength that we have together. It gives us a chance to tell folks you don’t have to go real far to have a wonderful experience. Come and visit Fergus Falls. Come and visit Otter Tail County and you’ll see some amazing things.”
Others speaking at the brunch, hosted by Fergus Falls’ Rick Schara, were Schierer, DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, Deer Hunter’s Association executive director Craig Engwall, DNR regional training officer Greg Oldakowski and director of Explore Minnesota, John Edman.
The main event of the Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener comes early Saturday morning when Minnesota’s top state official will post up on private land in Otter Tail County with a 1903 Springfield rifle that belonged to his wife’s grandfather. Like many of his fellow Minnesotans, he will spend some time trying to get a shot at a white-tailed deer. Several host families in the Fergus Falls area have volunteered their hunting property to Walz and his entourage.
“As you’ve heard this about far more than deer hunting,” Walz told Friday’s crowd. “We’re incredibly blessed. In Minnesota the habitat we have, that the creators left us with, is unlike any place else in the world. To live as free people, to make a choice to be able to go out and take part in your activity is amazing. To have folks who care enough, both private and public, to work together to preserve those for future generations, that’s incredibly insightful.
“All that is right with this state and this country happens this weekend,” Walz said.
Friday’s Big Buck Brunch featured country-style potatoes, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, rolls, melon, muffins, coffee, juice and more.
After the brunch, Walz took a driving tour of Fergus Falls with Schierer, visited the armory as part of his bonding tour, met with fourth and fifth graders about outdoor education at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center and stopped at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home in advance of Monday’s Veterans Day exercises.
Following Saturday morning’s deer hunt, Walz and Edman are scheduled to host an event at Mabel Murphy’s restaurant at 11 a.m. called “Tales of the Hunt” in which they will share their experiences afield.