Minnesota-based City Auto Glass has held its annual Walleye Classic in the North Star State for nearly two decades, with proceeds totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars benefiting area youths. Red Lowen, tournament chair, says this year’s event, held May 20, will again see tens of thousands of dollars bolster the pocketbooks of area youth nonprofits, from baseball teams to summer camps.
The Walleye Classic, held on Minnesota’s Lake Vermilion, has been taking place for 18 years as of the most recent event. Of course, as with many events during that time, COVID-19 negatively impacted the tournament in 2020. While City Auto Glass and its 501(c)3 City Auto Glass Foundation were unable to host the event due to state regulations, Lowen says registrations were still full.
“We began in 2006 as a little tournament with 35 boats,” Lowen says. “We’ve been blessed and managed to figure things out, and now have 125 boats fishing every year. That’s as big as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will let us be on Lake Vermilion.”
Lowen says the effort began thanks to solid connections with a local Kiwanis chapter, whose mission is to support children in need of a helping hand.
“That was the nature and motivation to start the tournament, to raise money that initially went to the Kiwanis club,” Lowen says. “Over the years, as we grew, we decided to continue supporting the club while also searching out other organizations. There are many organizations doing great things to help young people. It may be a drop in the bucket, but we’re doing the best we can every year.”
The tournament has resulted in nearly $400,000 in donations to youth organizations since 2006. Lowen says that while exact figures aren’t yet available from the 2023 event, he’s confident that tens of thousands of dollars will once again benefit youths in Northeastern Minnesota.
“We have received great support from industry folks like DuPont, PGW, Enterprise Fleet Management, Mygrant and more,” Lowen says.
The next Walleye Classic is scheduled for Saturday, May 18, 2024. Check out the event’s Facebook page for full results from 2023.