Annual Sandstrom Walleye Tournament raises money for Learn for Life program
The 10th annual Dan Sandstrom Walleye Tournament will be held Saturday, Aug. 13, with take-off at Bukolt Park in Stevens Point. Tournament results and a raffle and music entertainment will follow at the Moose Family Center, 1025 Second St. N., Stevens Point.
The fishermen teams will take off in their boats from Bukolt Park at 7 a.m. and have until the weigh-in at 3 p.m. At about 3:30 or 4 p.m. after the teams’ catches are recorded, the public is invited to join the fishermen, tournament organizers and United Way volunteers for music, games, kid’s competitions and nearly $14,000 worth of raffle prizes at the Moose Lodge.
“What makes us unique as compared to other fishing tournaments is, one, every fishermen that comes in to the tournament will get a bag of goodies. This year, it’s just under $97 worth of product from brand-name companies such as Berkley, Rapala, Reef Runner, Booyah Lures, Power Bait – they’re all good stuff. In some cases, it’s product that isn’t even on the market,” said Rollie Vallin, tournament founder and organizer.
Vallin launched the tournament as a memorial for his late brother-in-law, Dan Sandstrom, and the event has grown over the years into one of the largest fishing tournaments in Wisconsin through steady community support.
As of Tuesday, Aug. 2, Rollie said he had 71 boats registered for the tournament.
“We have a permit for 75 boats, so I believe this year we’re going to be at 75 boats,” he said. “It’s a sight to be seen out at Bukolt to see 75 boats just sitting out there, I can’t tell you how many millions of dollars there are in water craft. It’s something to see.”
The teams also get a food and drink ticket for after-tournament libations at the Moose Lodge. Coupled with the goodie bag, Vallin said teams get a lot for their entry fee.
The entry fee is $80 per boat, with two people allowed per boat. All entry fees will be paid back as prize money for the top 20 finishers in the tournament, with first place being $1,000 if a minimum of 50 boats participate. In addition, the entry who catches the smallest legal walleye will receive $100 and the “mystery fish” winner will receive two $100 fishing rods.
The event will include a Kids’ Casting Contest, a United Way Summer Sizzle Reading Series event, a bike drawing with other prizes and a raffle with proceeds benefiting United Way’s Learn for Life Reading Initiative.
Vallin said all the proceeds from the event benefit the Learn for Life program, which in partnership with Portage County school districts, local businesses and community members, provides young children with tutors on a regular basis to increase reading achievement in the early grades.
Kids who participate in the free casting contest at the Moose Lodge will also receive a goodie bag and one ticket toward the two grand prizes of a Trek bicycle and a Kindle Fire HD8. Additional tickets can be purchased for the grand prizes and other raffle items for the kids.
After the casting is done, each caster will receive pizza and soda, with the top three casters in each age group receiving prizes for their accomplishments. The contest starts at 1:30 p.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m., with results to be held at the Moose Lodge. Kids must be present to win the grand prizes that are offered.
At 3:30 p.m., a separate raffle of about 45 items will be held for the kids.
“There’s no cost to the kids, all we’re trying to do is get kids into the sport of fishing,” Vallin said.
New this year, United Way of Portage County’s Learn for Life will hold a Summer Sizzle Reading Series event at the Moose Lodge at 2 p.m. A local “celebrity” will read to children attending the event, and each child will receive a free book. The Worth Co. is sponsoring the event. Geared for children ages up to 10, the Summer Sizzle event will also include literacy-related activities.
The event is open to the public and individuals do not need to be a part of a tournament team to participate in the raffle, which includes six flat screen TVs, two laptops, a signed Green Bay Packers football, six $100 fishing rods and $200 in gas cards.
Following the raffle and new this year, The Gray Catz, a country and rock cover band, will perform from 7 to 10 p.m. AM Construction LLC of Stevens Point is sponsoring the band. The public is invited, and there is no cover charge to attend. Three $100 bills will be raffled off while the band performs.
“United Way’s Learn for Life does so much for the children in our community,” Vallin said. “It helps develop the foundations of early reading and learning for children.” Last year’s tournament raised $16,850 for Learn for Life.
Although all 75 openings may be filled by time of the Gazette’s publishing, entry forms are available online at www.unitedwaypoco.org/walleyetournament by clicking on the “entry form” link in the story. More information is also available by calling Vallin at 715-340-4859 or 715-345-0645.
More information about United Way of Portage County and Learn for Life is available online at www.unitedwaypoco.org or by calling 715-341-6740.