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Ellie Wille, 4, exits an inflatable playground at the Lake Bemidji waterfront during Saturday’s Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic. Volunteers from Let’s Go Fishing were stationed at each activity location to oversee the fun. Trent Opstedahl | Bemidji Pioneer

Many take part in family activities at Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic

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BEMIDJI — The Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic was not limited to avid fishermen Saturday, as children had the chance to partake in a casting contest, one of many family activities to accompany the 13th annual charity event.

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With family activities kicking off at 11 a.m., community members began to arrive at the Lake Bemidji Waterfront for a day of food, fun and fishing.

"It’s a good community event," said Lynn Gregg of Bemidji, who attended the event with her granddaughter, Alexis. "It’s great they’ve got activities for the kids."

Volunteers from Let’s Go Fishing and local Boy Scouts of America members organized and oversaw the many children activities.

Ben Mahlke, Boy Scout district executive for the Bemidji area, said the Bemidji Boy Scouts have been volunteering at the tournament since it was established in 2001.

Pack 32 scouts have been overseeing the casting contest every summer for the past 13 years.

"It’s a great service, and it’s a good way to get the kids involved in the community," Mahlke said. "It’s also just really neat to see the kids participate and have fun with the scouts."

Mahlke said the older Scouts help fishing tournament officials throughout the day by volunteering at check-in and by running fish back to the water after they’ve been weighed.

Other family activities at the Waterfront included two bounce play lands, face painting, bean bag toss, hockey, an obstacle course and a pelt identification booth.

"It’s fun," said 3-year old Alexis, who lives in East Grand Forks. Alexis and her mother made the weekend trip to Bemidji to visit family members.

The youngster also excitedly explained how she went fishing Friday night and was happy to be able to partake in the casting contest.

While many families have made the Kraus-Anderson fishing tournament an annual tradition, Danielle Thorwardson said she was unaware so many events coincided with the tournament.

"We just saw this was going on and we didn’t know there was so much to do," Thorwardson said.

Thorwardson and her ex-boyfriend, Chris French, decided to take their son, Luke, out for an afternoon of fun, as well as to enjoy the craft of fishing.

"I’ve been here a few times to watch the tournament," French said, adding fishing is one of his hobbies.

Many of the children’s games were geared toward youngsters, which is why Tony Wille was happy to take his two children, Charlie and Ellie, to the fishing tournament.

"It’s just a nice thing to do with the family," said Wille, who added that also enjoys watching the weigh-ins.

Running through one of the two inflatable playgrounds, Wille’s 4-year old daughter, Ellie, enthusiastically waited outside the exit for her brother, 2-year-old Charlie, to finish the course.

"I like to play with my brother," Ellie panted out, adding that she enjoyed Friday’s boat parade, especially the candy she collected.

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