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Outdoors at the Fair

Game and Fish showcase

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Greg Gullickson, ND Game and Fish Department.

He’s been doing it for 21 years and it’s never looked better.

“It’s a challenge and a lot of work, but to see the benefit for the Game and Fish Department and the people of North Dakota, and elsewhere, to come and learn something about the outdoors is very rewarding,” said Greg Gullickson, NDGF outreach biologist in Minot. “It’s kind of one of the highlights of my job.”

Gullickson began final preparations on the Conservation and Skills Park the Monday before Friday’s opening of the North Dakota State Fair. And he was at the gate when the doors swung open to begin a nine day run, something he said he always likes to see.

“I always make it a point to be at the gate opening on Friday,” remarked Gullickson “We must have had a dozen people waiting to get inside the Game and Fish area. A bunch of enthused kids went running down the path to the fishing pier.”

Gullickson said he was able to take advantage of last year’s cancelation of the fair due to the coronavirus pandemic to make some improvements to the popular attraction.

“We really made it a little more colorful and interesting,” said Gullickson. “We just wanted to make sure it’s a showcase and a gem of the fair.”

One of the attractions inside the area is as natural as can be – shade trees and grass. The pond area makes for a perfect place to find some relief during a hot afternoon on the fairgrounds. There’s plenty to do there too. All at no charge.

“We have an information building, an archery range, a pellet gun range, a hunter education area, a live display of fish, fish mounts, our Report All Poachers trailer with mounts of animals that were taken illegally, and our pollinator plot area,” said Gullickson. “During set-up I saw three or four different species of butterflies that were using it.”

While all the attractions inside the Game and Fish area are busy throughout the nine days of the State Fair, it is the fishing pond that remains an automatic draw for visitors.

“It’s a great area to be,” observed Gullickson. “A cane pole and a piece of line, a bobber and a weight and a hook and a worm and that’s all it takes. We catch thousands of fish that way.”

Gullickson spends two consecutive weeks preparing and over-seeing the Game and Fish area for each run of the State Fair. It’s a lot of work but it has its rewards. Each bluegill or crappie or trout hoisted out of the water by an excited youngster puts a smile on Gullickson’s face.

“I certainly do enjoy it,” said Gullickson with a smile. “When that first bluegill comes in or that first kid plinks a target, it makes it all worth it. I wonder just how many people had their first experience in the outdoors right in the middle of the State Fair.”

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