Community Picnic at 2014 Gov.’s Fishing Opener

Governor’s Fishing Opener: Nisswa ready to serve 5,000 at free community picnic

pineandlakes_logoBy Nancy Vogt

Finally, the ice is out and the Grand Fishing Opener is here.

To kick off festivities for the 67th annual Governor’s Fishing Opener on Gull Lake, downtown Nisswa is ready to host an estimated 5,000 people Friday afternoon, May 9, for a free community picnic.

A huge tent has been set up on Main Street and organizers are preparing to serve up to 5,000 free meals of pulled pork sandwiches with barbecue sauce, baked beans, coleslaw, chips, water and ice cream cups.

“It’s going to be a full afternoon and evening of events,” said Eric Peterson, picnic co-chair with Tina Foster.

The picnic starts at 4 p.m., when Gov. Mark Dayton and others will speak. Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon and other state leaders and commissioners are scheduled to attend events. All Friday events are free and open to the public.

Eric Peterson of Lake Fun Rentals in Nisswa takes a pontoon for a test drive out on Gull Lake on Tuesday, May 6. The pontoon will be used as part of the Kid's Fishing Event for this weekend's Governor's Fishing Opener. Photo by Chelsey Perkins

Eric Peterson of Lake Fun Rentals in Nisswa takes a pontoon for a test drive out on Gull Lake on Tuesday, May 6. The pontoon will be used as part of the Kid’s Fishing Event for this weekend’s Governor’s Fishing Opener. Photo by Chelsey Perkins

“We have about 60 exhibitors that will be showing up to promote their involvement in the fishing opener and supporting Nisswa with pulling this big event together,” Foster said. “Every exhibitor will have some fun games or something family-friendly, so bring the kids.”

Main and South Main streets in Nisswa will be closed Friday for the event. There will be access to Triangle convenience store and Dairy Queen. Vehicles can park along any downtown city street, or use parking and shuttle service at the Pine Trail homes subdivision off County Road 18.

The picnic is scheduled from 4-8:30 p.m. Local bands will play, including the Forestview Middle School seventh-grade Jazz Band, Whitney Cougar Roggenkamp, Collin Smith and Seth Doud, followed by the Gear Daddies from 8:30-10 p.m.The night will cap off with a short fireworks display.

More than 300 volunteers have turned out in force to help with the picnic, ranging from 4-H clubs to Boy Scout troops, civic organizations to church groups, corporations to nonprofit organizations, high school sports teams to firefighters. Nisswa Elementary School students are providing decorative fish of Minnesota they made to hang in the tent.

“On behalf of the Nisswa community, we are honored to be hosting the 67th annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener, and super excited to be showcasing our downtown Nisswa business district,” said Shawn Hansen, Nisswa chamber president/CEO. “We have a fantastic crew of over 330 volunteers helping with the picnic and we invite you to join us for this great celebration.”

Area fishing hosts will guide the governor, lieutenant governor and various media representatives on Saturday, May 10, on Gull Lake for the walleye and northern pike fishing opener. Ray Gildow will host Dayton and Toby Kvalevog will host Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon. Both are professional fishing guides in the Brainerd lakes area.

At 7 p.m. Saturday at Grand View Lodge, the 2014 Larson Boat package vaued at $38,110, will be raffled. Tickets will be sold through Friday for $5 each. For more information on the raffle,

In general, lakes are running a week earlier than last year and a week later than the median dates regarding ice-out, according to the Minnesota State Climatology Office. Last year, most of Gull Lake was ice-covered on the fishing opener. Two years ago, ice was out in late March.

According to the state climatology office, Gull Lake average ice-out date is April 21; the earliest ice-out date was March 26, 2012; and the latest ice-out date was May 18, 1950.

The 67th Governor’s Fishing Opener is sponsored by the Brainerd Lakes Chamber with host property Grand View Lodge and in collaboration with the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce. Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state’s tourism promotion office, organizes this event each year in coordination with a host community.

Nancy Vogt can be reached Follow her and on Twitter @PEJ_Nancy.

Lakeland News interview regarding summer tourism in the Brainerd Lakes Area

Lake life puts wind in his sales

Lake Fun Rentals LogoEVERYDAY PEOPLE
Senior Reporter

LAKE SHORE – Eric Peterson grew up on Gull Lake and while he makes his living via the water, he doesn’t spend much time on the lake’s surface.

Peterson, 39, grew up in the lakes area. He graduated from Pillager High School in 1988 before going to the University of North Dakota for its aeronautical program. Ever since he was a child, Peterson said he was interested in anything with an engine. When he graduated from the flight program, jobs as pilots weren’t particularly abundant. So he got into a sales position in Minneapolis for a small company that built prototypes.

Eric Peterson

Eric Peterson

“I’d fly into small airports and deliver the prototypes to the customer,” Peterson said.
But his air career was cut short a few years later when he had a seizure during pre-operation for knee surgery. The seizure meant he wasn’t medically cleared for flight.

“It was interesting, a year later I went back to visit the doctors and review everything just to verify and they said they could find absolutely no results or anything in regard to a seizure so I could have continued the fly part of it but the economy – even then with flight jobs – was so poor I continued down the sales avenue.”

Peterson got a job with Yamaha Motor Corporation motor sports division and worked with the dealer network to sell motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles. It was a job that allowed plenty of travel and time to live in other states. He did that for more than eight years covering New Mexico, Arizona, northern California, Oregon, Nevada and then Illinois.

Living in Illinois with a young family and a son entering school, Peterson said the decision was made to return to Minnesota in search of better schools and a quality of life. Peterson opened the rental business, Lake Fun Rentals on Interlachen Road, also known as County Road 77, by the Gull Lake public access near Zorbaz restaurant.

An open air cabana desk allows him to be outside and greet customers as they arrive in the expansive yard dotted with boats and watercraft. Another small office is just inside lined with framed photos and a large mounted fish.

This is Lake Fun Rentals third season. The business started out with fishing boats, canoes and Jet Skis, later adding ski boats and pontoons.

“I grew up on the lake,” Peterson said. “My first job was at Bar Harbor tying up boats at 12 so I’ve always been around boats. I’ve always had an interest in motorsports whether it be boats, motorcycles or snowmobiles.”

Running a rental business was intriguing and it allowed Peterson to have the personal contact with customers he enjoyed. The business typically comes from area resorts. This year, Peterson said the weather with its cool temperatures and rain days has been more of a factor than the troubled economy.

“There have been more marginal weather days than good days,” Peterson said.

During the winter, Peterson continues to be a contract employee for Yamaha’s snowmobile division taking customers on demo rides, assisting with dealership training and product seminars and demonstration rides on new products and assisting with race events.

Summers mean working long hours, from 7 a.m. to about 9 p.m. Cleaning up equipment before customers arrive each morning, launching equipment and putting people on the water, doing paperwork and then its getting equipment back in and fueling up for the next day.

“The only downside of the business is it’s seven days a week,” Peterson said. “Basically from May to mid-September you don’t get a day off so you get to the point where you look forward to fall.”

Peterson said the schedule would seem tougher if he weren’t working for himself.

Sam Salutric, Carol Stream, IL. was at Peterson’s open air desk by 8 a.m. last week with plans for a pontoon rental for the family. Salutric said he picked Lake Fun Rentals after looking at Peterson’s Web site.

“And he called me back,” Salutric said.

Looking back, Peterson said the decision to move back to the lakes area and start a business was a good one that allowed more time to spend with family.

“I traveled a lot and in the bigger cities but I’m glad to be back here,” Peterson said, adding he never expected to move back here. “I think sometimes you have to move away from Brainerd to really appreciate how great it is here.”

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at or 855-5852.