It’s probably not too much of a stretch to say that, for everyone whose niche is the out-of-doors, every day spent in the outdoors is like Christmas.
No, it doesn’t have to be a special occasion or event; time in the out-of-doors has a spirit all its own.
But in the north country, for Northland Outdoors types, there are events or destinations that are, in their own way, special. Whether it’s the theme of the event, or the place, or the time of year, they’re just different. Northland Outdoors different.
Frontier Christmas in South Dakota, Fishing for Dinner in Wisconsin and the Ice Fishing Extravaganza in Minnesota are all that, and each just around the corner.
The annual Frontier Christmas at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park near Lake City, S.D., scheduled Saturday, Dec. 12, is all about an old-fashioned, back-country type Christmas. Yes, there are the usual Christmas events that are more holiday tradition than outdoor excursion. But Christmas past can translate to unique, old-school outdoors, too. At Fort Sisseton, that’s in the form of a demonstration by the Prairie Fiber Arts Guild on how wool and other natural fibers are made into clothing, and demonstrations on rope turning. Not your typical outdoors activities. And there’s all the usual Christmas traditions, too, much of which at least border on north country outdoors.
Frontier Christmas, too, is a good excuse to visit Fort Sisseton Historic State Park — a must-see, must-experience destination for history buffs and outdoors folks wanting something a bit different. There is no cost for Frontier Christmas, although a park entrance license is required and may be purchased at the park. For more information, call 605-448-54-74 or email FortSisseton@state.sd.us.
For foodies at Frontier Christmas, there is fresh-made egg-baked bread and churned butter. And, as any outdoors foodie will tell you, there’s nothing like making what you eat with fresh, real ingredients.
That, too, is the premise for Fishing for Dinner: From Wisconsin Waters to Your Plate, a catching-cooking program offered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The four-session classes, set in the Milwaukee and Madison areas, begin with an indoor prep session for ice fishing and end with a potluck feast. According to the program, participants will learn about Wisconsin’s fishing tradition and how to keep it sustainable, and a chef will demonstrate how to prepare the catch for the table.
The classes are free, although a Wisconsin fishing license is required — all participants must have a DNR Customer Identification number, found on fishing licenses. The first four-session class starts Jan. 27, with the fishing outing Feb. 6 at Pike Lake in the Kettle Moraine State Forest near Hartford, concluding with the cooking segment Feb. 10. For the particulars, go to dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/anglereducation/FishDinnerUECWinter2016.pdf.
While Fishing for Dinner is a combination fishing/cooking, the Brained Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza is about fishing/giving — and unlike any other ice fishing event out there. For starters, it’s regarded as the largest charitable ice-fishing contest in the world, annually attracting upwards of 10,000 people, all together on the ice at Gull Lake’s Hole-in-the-Day Bay just north of Brainerd. And the prizes are the envy of any fishing tournament — this year’s top prize is a Ford or GMC pickup truck, with Artic Cat ATVs and an Ice Castle fish house sprinkled into the mix of 150 total prizes.
Charities also win big: Last year, the Brainerd Jaycees event helped raise $186,618 for 57 area charities, according to the contest website..
The 26th annual Extravaganza is scheduled Jan. 23. For more information or to enter, go to www.icefishing.org.