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Fish decoy show reels in crowds, vendors alike

Larry Lange of Perham, owner of Uncle Larry’s Decoys, displayed his fish decoys at the Perham Area Community Center as part of the annual Antique Sporting Collectibles and Fish Decoy Show, held this past weekend. Tom Hintgen/FOCUS

First timers to the Antique Sporting Collectibles and Fish Decoy Show held over the weekend at the Perham Area Community Center weren’t disappointed.

“It’s amazing what you see here,” said retiree Richard Tomhave of Fergus Falls on Saturday afternoon. “As an avid hunter and fisherman, you quickly see that there’s more to this show than just displays of fish decoys.”

He walked alongside displays that included clothing, furniture, wildlife paintings, fishing jigs, folk art, leathercraft, caps, pheasant farm information, displays by the Minnesota Trappers Association and State Fishing Museum, and others.

Tom had a few laughs while looking at old metal signs that were for sale. One of them said, “Crazy Loon Saloon.”

Another visitor, John Girard of Detroit Lakes, stopped to check out crossover decoys being sold by Brandon Williams of Grand Rapids, Minn.

John Girard, left, of Detroit Lakes, talks with Brandon Williams of Grand Rapids, Minn.

Girard also stopped by the west-side gymnasium that included entries as part of the National Fish Decoy Competition. Craftsmen and artists entered fish replicas that included crappies, lake trout, sunfish, walleye, perch, suckers, trout, bass, muskie and sturgeon.

People came not only from the Upper Midwest but also from various sections of the United States, including some from as far away as Texas, Nebraska and Colorado.

The trade show, also known as “The Gathering,” included buyers and sellers in the front gymnasium of the community center. Decoy competition was held in the back section’s gymnasium.

The National Fish Decoy Association, based in Frazee, is a group dedicated to the preservation of the historical folk-art of fish decoy carving, both for winter and summer fishing. Its members are involved with the promotion and education of dark house spear fishing.

Tom Hintgen, Otter Tail County Correspondent