Eight Willmar students selected to go “Fishing with Barry”

Barry is the official mascot of the Willmar Stingers baseball team.

Willmar, Minn.(May 2, 2018)– Eight students from the Willmar elementary schools have been selected to go “Fishing with Barry” during the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener on Saturday, May 12th.

Barry is the mascot for the Willmar Stingers baseball team, part of the Northwoods League. The kids were chosen by their teachers and resource guides because of their hard work and great attitudes.

“We wanted to create an opportunity for local kids to experience all the excitement of the Governor’s Fishing Opener,” said Publicity Co-Chair, Joy Baker.

Baker contacted Ryan Voz, Co-Owner of the Willmar Stingers, and asked for his assistance in finding six to eight kids who would be willing to represent the Willmar area and serve as “mini ambassadors” during the Governor’s Fishing Challenge on Green Lake in Spicer.

Voz reached out to Leah Thorpe, Child Guide at Kennedy Elementary School, and she set the wheels in motion. Working with Child Guides and teachers in all three elementary schools, they chose eight kids to participate in the event.

They are: Ava Batista (11), Justin Gomez (10), Xavier Gomez (9), Cayden Holland (8), Maria Melgar (11), Esteban Palacios (10), Jacob Sietsema (10), and Rene Vallejo (10).

“Not only are these kids hard workers, they’re also friendly and outgoing, so I think they’ll do a great job talking to the media and sharing their experiences,” said Thorpe.

The kids will take part in the Governor’s Fishing Send-Off Ceremony at 8 AM Saturday morning, on Saulsbury Beach in Spicer. From there, they’ll board a pontoon along with Barry, Voz, and staff from Let’s Go Fishing.

The Publicity Committee has put together a promo video showing Barry shopping for a life jacket and other fishing gear at Runnings in Willmar. The video can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/vgRZDNX5sx8.

For more information about the 2018 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener, visit mngovernorsopener.com.


The Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener has been a tradition in Minnesota since 1948. It was designed to improve Minnesota’s economy through the development and promotion of the state’s recreational opportunities, especially fishing. The first opener was a cooperative promotion between the state’s resort industry, media, and public officials. Today, the emphasis is even broader. It celebrates the kickoff of the summer tourism season. The special partnership continues today with a promotional focus on a host community as well as recreational opportunities statewide.

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