Money will do some of the talking inside the new Public Land Pavilion at the upcoming National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic in downtown Minneapolis.
Pheasants Forever, the show’s host, has guaranteed a 10-to-1 match for every dollar donated by retail vendors surrounding the pavilion. A percentage of sale proceeds raised during the three-day event Feb. 14-16, coupled with the match, will go to acquire land for a new wildlife management area in Minnesota.
Jared Wiklund, a Pheasants Forever spokesman, said the new concept at this year’s Pheasant Fest is to raise awareness and demonstrate grassroots support for wildlife lands in the face of downward trends in hunting participation. As in past Minnesota land purchases spearheaded by Pheasants Forever, a nonprofit habitat organization, major support would have to come from the state’s Outdoor Heritage Fund.
Starting Feb. 14, visitors to the Minneapolis Convention Center will recognize the Public Land Pavilion by an eye-catching landmark: An old school bus painted green and converted for hunting trips. It belongs to the nomadic Sam Soholt, a South Dakota native who has become a national advocate for the protection and conservation of public land. He’ll be among many speakers who will hold court at the pavilion to discuss issues, including the importance of public hunting lands to nongame, at-risk wildlife species.
One of the premier talks will take place at 4 p.m. Feb. 15 as part of a discussion panel featuring the national presidents of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Ruffed Grouse Society, and Pheasants Forever. Earlier that day, another panel will feature Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen and state Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, D-Roseville.
Wiklund said a number of Pheasant Fest vendors participating in the Build a Wildlife Area campaign have agreed to turn in at least 10 percent of sales made to show-goers. Those retailers include Duluth Pack outdoor gear, Filson clothing company, Sage & Braker gun-cleaning supplies, Sight Line Provisions accessories, and Texas-based Spoke Hollow hunting and fishing trip outfitters.
Organizers of Pheasant Fest are hoping for 30,000 attendees. The event, started in 2003, is held in various cities and was last staged in Minnesota in 2017.