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World's Largest Fish Decoy show coming to Perham April 14, 15

A sunfish decoy made by local carver Tony Sazama. Courtesy National Fish Decoy Association1 / 2
Brainerd decoy carver Bob Johnson who died May 2017 will be honored in a ceremony April 14 in conjunction with the National Fish Decoy Association banquet and The Gathering in Perham. Submitted2 / 2

The 21st annual The Gathering comes to Perham this weekend at the Perham Area Community Center.

The Gathering is considered the world's largest fish decoy show with over 110 vendors on site, a host of featured carvers and of course a huge selection of decoys.

This festival is not only a gathering of all fish decoy and outdoor memorabilia, it's also the site of the National Fish Decoy Association competition and this year, the World Cup Competition of Fish, Duck and Art.

"It's more than just a show," said organizer Rod Osvold. "You can come and buy, trade, sell and get appraisals." He said most people end up spending a half day or more taking in the variety.

Of the many vendors expected to fill the gymnasium at the PAC, about one third of the vendors will be new this year. Most of the vendors are from the Midwest including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and the Dakotas.

New things to note this year include several Lac du Flambeau Tribe members coming from Wisconsin to share the rich history of the beginnings and present day decoy carving.

"They have a deep history," Osvold said. This group will also perform an Ojibwe ceremony at the National Fish Decoy Association banquet at 6:45 p.m. Saturday honoring Bob Johnson, a regular to The Gathering and well known decoy carving teacher at Brainerd High School. Johnson died last May after a four-month battle with cancer.

Osvold noted several other world renowned decoy and lure carvers will be on the scene sharing their work. Custom fishing rods, waterfowl calls, spears, new inventions, knives and antiques are a regular part of the show. Visitors can also view the judging going on for the national competition. Also back by popular demand is a display of Ice Castle Fish Houses.

The Gathering, the site of the National Fish Decoy Association competition got its start in Perham largely because Perham sits in the heart of spear fishing territory with a location that can hold all the show has to offer. Minnesota is one of the last places that truly embraces spear fishing, Osvold said.

"We are the last frontier of spearing," he said.

Full concessions, prizes and a silent auction are also part of the event.

If you go

What: The Gathering- antique sporting collectibles, art and fish decoy show.

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday April 14; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday April 15.

Where: Perham Area Community Center.

Why: Buy, sell, trade, look at decoys of all kinds from all over the country.

Cost: 17 and under are free, adults $8