Voulunteers lauded by anglers, organizers

When it comes to putting on a fishing derby, Lorne Wood gets it.
Having served as chair of the Red Lake Fall Classic for more than a decade, he understands how many hours tournament organizers must put in, how many volunteers are needed, and, most importantly, how many details must be ironed out.
And he’s always amazed by how the organizers and volunteers at the Emo Walleye Classic pull together to do just that.
“It’s a tremendous amount of work,” Wood said. “The whole crew, they really put in a big effort. It’s really great.”
After all, this is no bare-bones production, Wood added.
“It’s just amazing what they have there,” he remarked. “I think it’s fabulous the way they put it on. That’s a big production. They bring all the boats out in front of everybody.
“It’s just fantastic how they’ve got it set up.”
When Wood took over the reins of the Red Lake walleye derby 12 years ago, the event was in danger of folding.
He’s now kept it alive for more than a decade and has since expressed interest in resigning from the organizing committee, but nobody has offered to take over his post.
Finding anglers is never a problem, Wood said. Finding volunteers and organizers, on the other hand, is a huge challenge. Last year, his event didn’t even have enough volunteers to lend the anglers a hand at the launching area.
That’s not the case in Emo, and Wood said that fact makes the annual EWC the envy of many other tournaments.
“From day one, they’ve had such great support from the community,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”
This year, about 160 people donated their time and energy to help make the fourth-annual EWC a success.
“I think we’re pretty lucky,” said Marlene McQuaker, the tournament’s volunteer co-ordinator. “It’s a community effort. Everybody seems to pitch in.”
That community spirit was very apparent last weekend when the volunteer corps at the Front Street boat launch found themselves in need of a few extra helping hands, which they found in the form of a number of eager spectators standing along the shoreline.
“Within minutes, people just pitched in and helped,” McQuaker said.
She added that once a person gets involved with the derby, they usually continue to come back year after year.
Although he may see things from a different perspective, Wood isn’t the only angler impressed with the organization and community spirit showcased at the EWC.
“I think they did a terrific job,” said Denis Barnard, a Fort Frances angler who has been competing in the EWC since its inception in 2002. “For a small town and with all the conditions they were facing, I think they did terrific.
“They did a bang-up job.”
EWC rookie Mike Svir, a veteran of a number of Minnesota fishing tournament circuit, also noticed the volunteers “really worked hard” at the event.
And he was surprised at how many people were on hand at the Emo-La Vallee Community Centre for the weigh-ins and evening festivities.
“It was shocking the crowd that Emo brings in,” Svir said. “It was a pretty good draw. It’s like the whole town shuts down for the tournament.”
Wood, Barnard, and Svir—all experienced tournament anglers—agreed that, based on what they’ve seen so far, the EWC is likely to experience continued success.
“As long as they can keep a strong committee, that tournament will have a bright, bright future,” Wood said. “I think you’ve got a tournament there for a long time to come.”
The 2005 EWC organizing committee included Ed Carlson, Geoff Pearce, Colleen Vennechenko, Carrie Baker, Nevin Bonot, Cheryl Curtis, Paul Koomans, Lincoln Dunn, Donna Haglin, Al McIvor, Keri Kellar, and McQuaker.
More than half the committee members have been involved since the event was first held in 2002.