The crisp sound of a duck call, the sweet pop-pop-pop of a BB gun and spontaneous cries of joy could be heard throughout the evening. There were smiles and hot dogs and the parents also shared some quality time with the kids.
Quite an event. The whole night. The 14th Annual Outdoor Youth Festival was held at Conservation and Skills Park at Minot’s State Fairgrounds on September 2.
“Everyone pursues the same mission, the same objective” said Greg Gullickson, outreach biologist with the North Dakota Department of Hunting and Fishing. “All these volunteers and voluntary organizations, all of whom are trying to get more young people and people in general involved in the outdoors. “
The West Dakota Waterfowlers, Minot’s chapter on delta waterfowl, made a first impression on those entering the conservation and skills park with ground blinds and Canada goose decoys lining the driveway in front of the pond of the exhibition center.
Several volunteers were helping the club’s version of the cornhole – ditching bean bags in favor of rubber ducks. The young people who launched a “cute” were rewarded with a free duck call, whose calls could be heard throughout the duration of the Thursday night event.
“This youth festival is one of our favorite activities,” said West Dakota waterfowl Kalvin Larson. “It allows a lot of children in the community to get involved and learn about outdoor activities. Children can look and touch and get interested in the outdoors. Some kids may not have really experienced the outdoors until this point. “
It was also a special evening for the Delta group. The club donated a closed trailer to Prairie Grit, a wonderful example that symbolized the essence of the evening.
“Last year we took a Prairie Grit athlete who was in a wheelchair on a youth hunt,” Larson said. “We had to borrow a crawler chair from Game and Fish. After that, Prairie Grit got a track chair for his athletes. We figured they could put the enclosed trailer to good use to transport the chair and expose more Prairie Grit athletes to the outdoors.
Like several other participating sports organizations, the West Dakota Waterfowlers have a long history with the Youth Outdoor Festival and youth hunts. Some young people have never forgotten the experience that began by attending the festival.
“Some are now adults who have become very active with some of the local wildlife clubs,” said Gullickson. “Someone gave them an opportunity and they want to pass it on to others. Three members of Delta’s board of directors were actually on a youth hunt.
A familiar face at the festival was Percy Ottmar of Souris River Basin Longbeards, a chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation.
“It’s all the sportsmen in the neighborhood who come together to sort of highlight their programs and show people what’s going on. Ottmar explained. “It’s our way of inviting the community out, showing them what we’re doing and maybe recruiting a member or two. “
A few feet away, a member of Pheasants for the Future used a long tongs to place a freshly grilled hot dog in a bun. A youth grabbed a bottle of ketchup, a napkin and a bag of crisps. Ottmar couldn’t help but smile.
“This is the most important thing. That’s it for the children ”, Ottmer laughs. “Free hot dogs and fries. It’s always a winner!
The archers of Souris Valley were there, along with a constant stream of young people eager to take a bow in their hands and release an arrow. The SVB members showed them some basics and let them try it out. For some young people, archery will become a sport for life.
“I don’t do cross-country or football anymore, but I still shoot archery” Gullickson laughed, noting the popularity of shooting sports such as high school trap shooting and the national school archery program.
A “must stop” for many it was an opportunity to fire a BB rifle or pellet gun with the attentive help of volunteer instructors. Young girls and boys were all business as they looked through the sights at a target a few feet downstream. It was too inviting an opportunity to pass up.
“We just wanted to go down and check out” says Justin McNichols, Minot. “Kids love the outdoors, so it’s a good activity to go out.”
McNichols was helping his son, AC, at the BB Range. His daughter, who will soon be in the field for the next young deer season, watched with great interest.
“It’s great to take the kids out and see different kinds of wildlife, shooting events, maybe catch a fish and have a good time,” said DJ Randolph, Velva Wildlife Club.
The Velva Wildlife Club distributed orange backpacks and outdoor stickers to young people. The adults accompanying the youngsters often inquired about the Velva animal group.
“Things are going very well at the club,” Randolph said. “We have rifles, shotguns and archery and hopefully are setting up a fishing pond this fall.”
Among the 11 organizations participating in this year’s Youth Outdoor Festival, there were a few newcomers.
“I actually invited two local outdoor camps, the Camp of the Cross and the Triangle Y Camp,” said Gullickson. “These are camps that many children in the area enjoy, outdoor summer camps where they learn safety on the water, swimming, kayaking and archery. They use the same equipment as the Archery in Schools program.
Programming of the outdoor festival for young people
West Dakota Waterfowl
ND Fur Hunters and Trappers Association
Velva Wildlife Club
Long Beards of the Souris River Basin
Pheasants for the future
Berthold Sports Club
Souris Valley Archers
Camp Y Triangle
Camp of the Cross