History Of the South Dakota Walleye Classic and Festival
This Professional Walleye Fishing tournament and Festival began back in 2007. George Kessler, a resident of Akaska, SD and Aberdeen, SD was on the South Dakota Board of Tourism. Governor Rounds and the Board of Tourism had a program for developing areas of Tourism in South Dakota. They were looking for communities that could encourage and attract tourist during a normal slow time, usually August. George approached Brad Schilling and several other residents of Akaska and asked if they thought a National walleye fishing tournament would attract tourist, and would the people and community support this type of project. Brad Schilling and Dick Sorensen members of the Akaska Men’s Commercial Club approached the Commercial Club and Club overwhelmingly voted approval of this project.
From that meeting, the South Dakota Walleye Classic, Inc. was born. August of 2008 was the first Annual Pro/Am Walleye Fishing Tournament, conducted by the area residents of the Akaska, SD community. It consisted of 46 Professional Walleye fishermen from around the United States and Canada and 92 Amateur/Co-Angler fishermen. This was first time (that we know of) that two Amateur/Co-Anglers fished with a Professional in this type of a tournament. This tournament was a huge success and drew hundreds of tourist and visitors to the North Central South Dakota area, near and around Akaska. Lynn Jurrens of Watertown, South Dakota a Professional fisherman won this event.
Planning for the 2009 season began all most immediately following the tournament on August 29, 2008. AIM (Anglers Insight Marketing) had representatives at our 2008 tournament to observe our organization and community. They were considering new locations to hold their Professional Walleye Tournaments for 2009. Needless to say they were well impressed with the Town of Akaska, the community, and the turn-out of fans, spectators and fishermen that supported this tournament. They approached us to see if they we could work out a cooperation with them. They had a membership of over 100 Professional Walleye fishermen and would provide expertise and the top Professional Fishermen four our 2009 tournament. We were able to come to an agreement, and signed a 3 year obligation with AIM. That left them to run the fishing tournament portion of the Classic and left us to plan, organize and manage a Festival portion. Needless to say August of 2009 came and the South Dakota Walleye Classic & Festival was another huge success, with 50 plus of our Nation and Canada’s top Professional Walleye Fishermen and Co-Angler’s to match. And we have continued up and through 2017. We are the only program that has survived for 10 years, the South Dakota Tourism Million Dollar challenge.
Our web site is being developed to bring everyone a site to completely provide information and support to our Sponsor’s, Fan’s, Tourist’s and Spectators from around the United States and Canada, all of North America.
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