Fundraising campaign kicks off to reel in money for new Willie Walleye

Article credit: Northern Light Region

The City of Baudette made it official at the Monday evening meeting to enter into a contract with Rose City Incorporated, the firm chosen to construct an all new fiberglass Willie Walleye statue.
The new statue, which the company hopes to have completely installed by June 15, 2018, will be constructed to be as close to a duplication of the current Willie Walleye in length, girth, style, etc.  The city will retain ownership of the new mold so that there will never be another “Willie Walleye.”
The council began discussions late last year when the statue began to crumble and it was becoming clear that something had to be done to make more than just repairs to Willie.
With the decision to replace the original statue, comes expenses for the city and that’s where the fundraising will come into play.
The Baudette-Lake of the Woods Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with the City of Baudette and will act as the chief fundraising organization for the cause.
“We’re very excited to be a part of this,” said Chamber President Mike Hovde.
“We look forward to helping raise the funds that will give our famous fish a fresh look and make sure Willie will be welcoming visitors for years to come.”
According to the agreement between the city and Rose City Inc., the cost for technicians to visit Baudette to prepare for mold prep work for the duplication of the statue, construction of the statue, freight to ship the new statue from Sparta, Wisconsin to Baudette, as well as installation of the new statue including new footings comes with a price tag of $79,797.50.
In addition to those costs, the city will be responsible for costs associated with the removal of the current statue by May 14, 2018 as well as demolition and disposal of the statue along with the removal of the current footings.
Taking all those costs into consideration, the Chamber and the City decided to set a fundraising goal of $110,000.
The City of Baudette has already put up close to $40,000 for a down payment on the new statue. Much of that money came from a Willie Walleye fund that the city kept for routine repairs and paint jobs.
In the end, the fundraising campaign’s goal is to help cover the costs as well as leave the city with some funds to replace at least some of the fund that will be needed for future upkeep of the new statue.
There will be a need to “wax” the new fiberglass structure to help keep the paint job lasting for years.
At a City Council meeting earlier this year, a representative from Rose City, Inc. told the council that the city of Hayward, Wisconsin has a similar fiberglass structure of a muskie that was regularly cared for with scheduled waxing and the first time they needed to re-paint it was 30 years after the original job was completed.
The Chamber is asking local residents, visitors, those original from Baudette as well as anyone who holds a special place in their heart for Baudette and its famous fish, Willie Walleye to consider a donation.
You can mail donations to the Willie Walleye Fund, c/o Baudette-L/W Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 659, Baudette, MN, 56623.
You can also donate online at
Businesses and organizations are also invited to donate or plan events that could benefit the cause.
“We also plan a big social media push to get the word out,” said Hovde.
“We’ve seen a lot of interest from former residents and regular visitors to Lake of the Woods who have expressed interest in helping this cause especially this past year as the current statue has been in a state of disrepair.”
Questions regarding the fundraising campaign can be directed to Hovde at 218-434-0273. or the city office at 218-634-1850.

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