By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The Minnesota Fishing Museum (MFM) in Little Falls and the Fishing Hall of Fame of Minnesota in Brainerd have announced they will merge. Both organizations share a history of celebrating the traditions of sport fishing and support further education of the sport with the youths of Minnesota.
The MFM is located on West Broadway Avenue in Little Falls and the Hall of Fame is located in Gander Mountain in Baxter. The future of the merger will locate the newly formed organization in a third location.
“We need a location that is large enough to accommodate the needs of both,” said Mavis Buker, executive director of the MFM. “We anticipate we will stay south of the Highway 371/ Highway 10 split to take advantage of those traveling north.”
A committee has been formed to look at possible locations for the new museum and hall of fame.
The name of the new organization will be The Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame Education Center.
Buker said the talks for the merger have been ongoing for several years.
“We have similar goals, this is a natural step,” she said. “The MFM has huge support from the Little Falls area, but we would like to expand that support from across the entire state. This merger will get our name out there with the help of Hall of Fame’s advertising expertise.”
The MFM’s first priority is to work with artifacts. It has just begun to approach the educational aspect with children and adults.
The Hall of Fame recognizes people who are exceptional at catching fish, those who manufacture tackle and those who preserve the history of fishing.
“The MFM is more informal in its approach to fishing while the Hall of Fame is more formal,” said Buker. “We have dedicated workers and volunteers and the Hall of Fame has connections with the media and the fishing industry. Put those two together and it’s a great fit.”
Visions for the new organization include areas for interactive learning and classes, large boats, artifacts and to honor people in the industry.
“Great plans and dreams are coming together,” said Buker. “But we will take baby steps to grow the new organization. When we meet a goal, another one will take its place. Ideas will be coming from a variety of knowledgeable people in the business.”
Both organizations have 501(c)3 designation, so the Hall of Fame’s assets will be absorbed into the MFM. New by-laws will be created to better reflect the structure of the new organization.
“All this should be in place by this summer,” said Buker. “The MFM will continue to be open and doing what they do until a new spot is found.”
Contact the MFM at (320) 616-2011 or the Hall of Fame at www.fishinghalloffamemn.com/.