Spirit of the St. Croix Days here this weekendThe Spirit of the St. Croix Days is here! The event begins today (Wednesday), continues through Saturday and is expected to draw 10,000 to 15,000 people to the community.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
The Spirit of the St. Croix Days is here! The event begins Wednesday, continues through Saturday and is expected to draw 10,000 to 15,000 people to the community.
Sponsored by the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau and the city of Hudson, the festival is built around the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail fishing tournament.
But a long list of other activities should attract crowds, regardless of their interest in fishing.
The PWT fishing tournament is often referred to as the Super Bowl of walleye fishing. Nationwide media outlets, including ESPN, will be here to record the event for a national television audience.
“We are really excited about the activities scheduled for this weekend,” said Chamber Director of Communications and Programs Pat Sherley. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We think our local people will enjoy attending many of the events.”
Among the major attractions is a performance by the Big Top Chautauqua. The group is performing a free show at the Lakefront Park band shell at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16. Food vendors will be available near the band shell.
The All American Lumberjack Show features teams performing lumberjack events and also involves a 10,000-gallon tank of water. Several shows are scheduled. On Friday, shows are at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, shows are at 11 a.m., 1, 3:30 and 5 p.m. All shows are free.
Other highlights include youth fishing activities, boat show, vendor show, food and beverage vendors, Taste of Hudson — A Food, Wine and Beer Experience, musical entertainment, Bassmeister Shows, kids activities and more (see schedule).
Taste of Hudson
Friday, Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m. will be The Taste of Hudson, A Food, Wine & Beer Experience” in a tent set up in Lakefront Park. With a $65 entry pass, participants can sample food from nine Hudson restaurants along with Wisconsin craft beers and wines. Later that evening a cash bar will open and jazz music will be available.
Passes are available at the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau Office, 502 Second St., and the participating businesses.
As far as the fishing tournament is concerned, professional walleye fishermen are trying to qualify to be one of the finalists on Saturday, Oct. 18. Some fishermen will have already qualified before the Hudson event, but many will fish Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and attempt to catch enough walleye to get into the Saturday finale.
Those who qualify will have eight hours on Saturday to catch as many walleye as possible and compete for the PWT year-end event title. The total guaranteed PWT payout for the event is $168,000. The top winner will take home a minimum of $44,000 in PWT prize money and can earn more from various manufacturers.
As fishermen attempt to qualify, they will fish Oct. 15-17 with weigh-ins each day from 3:15 to 5:30 p.m. Those who have already qualified will have those days to seek the most lucrative spot on the river for catching walleye.
The culminating event for the fishermen will be a formal awards banquet Saturday evening. At the dinner and awards banquet, the Top 50 Anglers of the Year will be honored by the PWT. The public may also purchase entry passes for that event, available at the Chamber office for $25 each.
“This Saturday night banquet will be a huge event,” Sherley said. “I don’t think those who attend will be disappointed.”
The banquet is scheduled in a huge all-weather tent constructed in lakefront Park.
“It’s not your typical tent,” said Chamber President Kim Heinemann. “This will be a first-class structure.”
It will also be the site of Friday night’s Taste of Hudson. Entry passes for both events are limited to 250 people.
“This is big deal,” Heinemann said. “The tournament has drawn huge crowds to every community in which it has been held.”
The fishing tournament is a “catch and release” tournament. All walleye caught and weighed will be released back into the river.
“We expect that the PWT event will have a big economic impact on Hudson,” said Heinemann. “The economic impact to Hudson is estimated to be over $680,000 as a result of this event.”
The celebration will also recognize the 40th anniversary of the St. Croix River becoming a National Scenic River. Call the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau at (715) 386-8411 for more information, or visit www.hudsonwi.org.