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Paul Bunyan Downtown Days expands Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic

The Downtown Development Authority has added a raft of new features to the sixth annual Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic.

Anglers will start their engines and launch their boats at 7 a.m. Saturday with weigh-in beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the Lake Bemidji waterfront. There are 100 two-person teams vying for the first prize of $10,000 and other cash prizes awarded to the top 15 teams. The emcee will be Chip Leer, fishing guide and one of the founders of "Fishing the Wildside," a fishing promotion organization.

Family activities at the waterfront will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be raffle drawings, a food and beverage court, free carnival rides for children 12 and younger, a Fishing Has No Boundaries trout pond, children's casting contest, dunk tank and games.

In the past five years, the live-release walleye tournament has contributed more than $175,000 to local organizations and charities. The 2005 event raised $45,000. Proceeds this year will benefit Bemidji Area Special Olympics, Fishing Has No Boundaries, Let's Go Fishing, Bemidji Youth Hockey Association and Take a Kid Fishing.

Special expanded features of the event will be Paul Bunyan Downtown Days both Friday and Saturday.

"We've had retailers say they'd like to have another sidewalk sale during the summer," said Mitch Rautio, DDA vice president.

He said the DDA members decided to piggyback the events with the Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic.

"They would like to make it more of a community event, and the DDA always wants to have more activities downtown," Rautio said.

The sidewalk sales will continue all day Friday and Saturday.

Activities will start at 6 p.m. Friday with the Boat & Float Parade. The parade route will begin at Eighth Street Northwest and continue south to Second Street Northwest.

"Many of the pros from the Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic will show off their big rigs, along with community floats and boats," said Roxy Mann, one of the organizers, in a press release. Anyone who would like to register for the parade can call her at 751-4321. Parade participants are eligible for drawing of five $200 prizes.

After the parade, the Bemidji Fire Department will serve a walleye fish fry at the waterfront. Visitors can also meet the anglers from 6-8 p.m.

At 6 p.m., the Beltrami County Historical Society will hold the second Greenwood Cemetery Walk. Actors will take the parts of notable Bemidji residents buried in the cemetery, complete with descriptions of their lives and period costumes.

Wanda Hoyum, Beltrami County History Center executive director, said Chief Bemidji (Shaynowishkung), played by Joe Johnson, and May McGregor, played by Colleen Bakken, will be back by popular demand. Among the nine new characters will be Charles Scrutchins, Bemidji's first African-American attorney, played by Sean Hill, and a Civil War couple, Sarah and Joe Bogart, played by Cate Belleveau and Greg Gasman. The Historical Society fund-raiser costs $10 for adults and $5 for children. For details, call 444-3376 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.