Whether you like hunting, fishing or just watching dogs compete, the Game Fair in Ramsey has a little of everything for the outdoor enthusiast.
The event takes place, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 9-11 and Aug. 16-18 except for Sundays when the gates close at 5 p.m. The two-weekend outdoor festival is once again at Armstrong Ranch Kennels, 8404 161st Ave. NW, Ramsey.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for senior citizens age 65 and older and $5 for children ages six to 14. Children ages five and under are admitted for free.
Chuck Delaney has lived on this property for 52 years. His wife Loral I Delaney was born in Ramsey and her father started the kennel company in the 1920s. This is the 32nd year the Game Fair has been at the kennels and it has become the nation’s largest gathering of outdoor organizations, he said.
Last year, about 46,000 people attended. Joining them were about 4,600 dogs, who must all be on a leash when they are not competing.
What excites Delaney the most is the changing demographics of people coming out, he said.
“When he started this in 1982, it was all older people like myself,” Delaney said. “Today there are young people with baby strollers. I’m enthusiastic to see the youth getting involved in the great outdoors.”
Some of the highlights of the Game Fair are a duck and goose calling contest that has a grand prize of $10,000. The inaugural competition last year was the 17th largest in the country in terms of number of competitors, Delaney said. He hopes to get in the top three this year.
The archery contest is back for a second year in a row as well. Those who can pop a balloon from 100 yards away are eligible for the finals in which the grand prize is $1,000.
New this year is a turkey calling contest.
Game Fair is a full participation event and visitors are encouraged to bring their own shotgun or bow for competitions, but they must be in a case. Dogs must be leashed.
If you prefer to watch and not compete, there are shooting exhibitions twice a day and dozens of seminars from national outdoor experts.
“It’s a family deal,” Delaney said. “There’s no beer or alcohol being served.”
Game Fair is not all about hunting. The dog competitions are some of the most popular activities at the event. Dogs can compete in a long jump off a dock, an obstacle course, decoy retrieval and antler shed hunting. Owners must provide paperwork at registration to prove their dogs are up-to-date on their shots and rabies vaccinations.
Visit Ron and Laura Schara, talk waterfowl with champion callers, hear dog training advice from nationally renowned trainers, watch birds of prey with Frank Taylor, or just walk along the lake taking in the sights.
Game Fair already has a record number of vendors signed up. To date, over 280 exhibitors from all over the country and some from Canada are slated to have booths. Dozens of dog clubs and sportsman’s clubs will be on-hand.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]