by Dennis Dalman
Area residents, including many from Sartell, had a chance to “bond” with their great river, the Mighty Mississippi, last Sunday during the fifth annual “Take a Day Off at the River.”
The event, once again, took place at the Stearns County Mississippi River Park on CR 1 north of Sartell.
A combination of fun and learning was apparent throughout the park as parents and children fished from shore, took pontoon rides, tried their hand at canoeing and kayaking or just took walking tours to learn about the flora and fauna of the riverbank world.
Others enjoyed watching the Department of Natural Resources demonstrate electrofishing (stunning fish into temporary immobility using an electric current); testing skills at a laser shooting range, taking part in archery, building birdhouses, visiting a station where there were “old-time” fur traders talking about the Minnesota voyageurs of days of yore.
One of the biggest attractions this year, as in previous years, was the presentation of many exotic animals courtesy of the Minnesota Zoo.
Altogether, there were more than 40 features at the event, including hands-on activities and educational booths.
Well over 1,000 people attended “Take a Day Off at the River.”
Since the event began five years ago, its popularity has increased exponentially every year since. Last year 1,300 people attended.
The event is sponsored by Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District, Stearns County Parks, Benton County, St. Cloud State University and the Department of Natural Resources. Many volunteers also made the day possible, including widespread support from local sportsmen’s clubs.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.