Beat the Heat Ice Fishing tournament back for third year
One of the first things Dan Artamenko implemented when he took over as athletic director at Williston State College was an ice fishing tournament. That was in January 2015 and had about 30 attendees.
One year later, the event was held again. This time, there were over 200 attendees.
Those who missed out on the first two years are in luck: Beat the Heat Ice Fishing Tournament is on once again at Blacktail Lake. This season’s event will be held on Jan. 28 and Artamenko expects a similar turnout this year.
The main selling point for the event is its inclusivity and family-friendly nature. It is not a cutthroat tournament with monumental stakes.
Rather, it is a day where families can enjoy the sport, while also competing for some prizes and participating in raffles along the way.
“It’s all about having fun,” Artamenko said. “So it wasn’t necessarily all about winning prizes. We tried to give away a lot of fun stuff. Fishing kits for kids, we had ice augers to give away, some nice generators. It was more about having a fun time. When you get 200 people out there, it really was.”
The jump in attendance from year one to year two was dramatic. It was partly due to increased promotion in places that receive more traffic, including Facebook groups based in Williston.
But the transition to a more family-friendly event was key. The first year, attendees registered as part of a team to compete. The next year, they did away with teams and had a simple $50 rate per person to attend.
“We had a few grandpas who actually ice fish competitively and go to all these tournaments, but they use this as an opportunity to bring out their grandkids,” Artamenko said. “They introduce them to ice fishing or just fishing tournaments in general.”
It’s also a good opportunity for someone to give ice fishing a try for the first time in a relaxed atmosphere. All that a person needs to participate is a fishing pole.
The event will also feature free food, the Williston Herald (http://bit.ly/2iWbbJ5 ) reported. Last year, Artamenko said there was homemade chilli cooking all day.
Artamenko hopes to see the tournament to continue growing in size. This season’s event will cap somewhere around 300, which is near max capacity for the size of Blacktail Lake. He said if interest continues to grow, the department would look for other options that could contain more people.
“I would think based off what I’ve seen with our golf tournament in August, there are still people here looking for things to do,” he said. “I imagine we will have 200-plus again.”
Artamenko hopes to tie this event together with a home Teton hockey game that will play the night before. He said there might be an opportunity for all attendees to get tickets to that game, although he still working out exact details.
Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com
An AP Member Exchange shared by the Williston Herald.