Wooden boat display at the fishing museum

Brenda Perlowski, executive director of the Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame, has always had a challenging job. But the summer of 2019 was just a little more than she bargained for. Operating a non profit organization always means having pressure to raise enough funds to keep the doors open and do the projects that an organization deems important. The Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame has done quite well for over twenty years, but a major highway project closing the main road to the museum and other local businesses practically has closed the doors to outside visitors. Getting to the museum became a logistical nightmare because it meant driving through poorly marked alley ways.

The museum relies on paid visitors for over 50 percent of its yearly revenue with the rest coming though pull tabs and donations. Perlowski realized by mid-summer that the museum was going to be in financial trouble with a huge decrease in the number of visitors coming to the museum. She put out a call for donations to help keep the museum open. She identified an estimated shortfall of $35,000 needed just to keep the doors open. The response was amazing, and the goal of $35,000 was reached thanks to organizations and individuals who contributed large amounts and small amounts.

Women Anglers of Minnesota donated $10,000, and Lindy Little Joe Fishing Company also made a major contribution. Gary Roach, the Hall of Fame angler known as Mr. Walleye, donated a fishing trip that raised money, and Doug Glimmerveen, of Smack Down Outdoors, held a raffle that also raised funds for the cause. A number of individuals donated $1,000, but the largest amount of money raised came from $25-$100 donations from individuals. “People really care and really stepped up to help us out,” said Perlowski, “and I can’t thank Outdoor News, a Minnesota weekly newspaper, enough for their tremendous help in supporting our cause.”

The highway project started on Father’s Day and was planned to be done in September, but the constant rain pushed back the construction until late October. The museum missed all of its key tourist months for the entire year. Perlowski is optimistic that the museum will get through the winter months with a major fundraiser coming up called Christmas Tree Lane, an event that is held every year to generate money for the museum.

It is never too late to make a contribution to the fishing museum. They have a website, Minnesota Fishing Museum and Fishing Hall of Fame, that explains how to contribute and how to visit if that is something you have not yet done. It is an amazing place with a rich history of fishing in Minnesota and a showcase of Hall of Fame anglers who have impacted the fishing industry. It is an organization well worth investing in and a site that every Minnesotan needs to visit.

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