BEMIDJI - The fishermen take center stage at the Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic, but the supporters that fill Paul Bunyan Park have their fair share of fun while the competitors are on the lake.
For Larry Delude, a Bemidji retiree, he was looking to pass some time before going to church and his curiosity brought him in to see some of the big fish that were brought in at the competition's end.
"I fish Lake Bemidji a lot," Delude said. "There are a lot of fish here, but sometimes the tough part is figuring out how to get them bite. I usually go to church on Saturday's but if I see some big fish I may just have to go to church tomorrow."
From interested community members, to kids and significant others, the park was full of people hours before the fish were weighed.
For Becky Johnson and her sons Ben and Tyler Moran, the tournament has been a tradition for the last few years, with their dad Tom Moran and his high school friend Jason Meyer fishing together for the last five years.
Ben Moran said that he helped his dad pre-fish the lake a few times over the last week to prepare him for the Classic.
For Katie Guthrie the experience was new but she was excited to see what her husband Aaron could do. Guthrie said that she paid for her husband's entry fee as a birthday present hoping that he could get in the money position and make her birthday gift a little bit of a gift for herself as well.
David Maus, a St. Philip's Boy Scout Volunteer has no real fishing experience but volunteered at one of many children activities in the park, casting target practice. Kids of all ages came out casted a fishing rod, trying to aim at hoops at various distances on the parks hill. Other children's activities included face painting, bean bag toss, a hockey shooting area and two blow-up playground areas.
Corner Sports raffled off an $11,000 fishing boat, with proceeds being split between a variety of local organizations including the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Special Olympics, Take a Kid Fishing, Let's Go Fishing, Fishing Has No Boundaries and Bemidji Youth Baseball.
Keg N' Cork provided the food and drinks at the event, which did not go to waste as the 91 degree heat required a lot of replenishing for spectators and fishermen alike.
The fish were weighed, and the checks were awarded and Delude was still at the park, shocked by the 18.08 pounds of walleye that Kelly and Kaleb Hanson were able to bring in.
"That was an impressive weight," Hanson said. "For a while it seemed like 15 pounds was going to win it but then they weighed in, I couldn't believe it."