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Pheasant Fest returns to Minneapolis next weekend

Jaxon, an English pointer owned by Jared Wiklund of Pheasants Forever, hustles back with a mouthful of rooster pheasant during a Minnesota hunt this past October. Pheasant hunters and pheasant hunting dogs will be part of Pheasant Forever's National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic this Friday through Sunday in Minneapolis. News Tribune file photo

It's a celebration of pollinators, pups, pheasants and wild game.

Conservation groups Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will roll out their latest convocation of upland game hunters — called the National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic — from Friday through Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis. The event was last held in Minneapolis in 2013.

The event is expected to draw up to 30,000 people who are passionate about upland hunting and grassland habitat. This year, pollinators — bees, butterflies and birds — take center stage, said Jared Wiklund, Pheasants Forever public relations manager.

"Pheasant Fest has always been a platform to elevate the conversation about grassland habitat conservation," Wiklund said.

Pollinator habitat is also good upland game habitat, so it was a natural to tie the two together, he said. A pollinator symposium titled "Bees, Butterflies, Birds and You" will be held on Friday, featuring leading experts discussing why pollinator habitat is critical to the future of upland birds.

Admission to the Pheasant Fest/Quail Classic event is $10, and it's buy-one-get-one-free.

Among other highlights of the gathering:

  • The show opens at 11:15 a.m. Friday with a dog parade. Forty-four species of upland game dogs and 90 dogs in all will enter the show in the parade.
  • The National Pheasant Summit, at which governors from Minnesota and South Dakota are scheduled to appear, is set for Saturday. Pheasant biologists and policy makers will discuss pheasant habitat issues.
  • Wild game cooking on stage: Throughout the show, wild-game chefs will be on stage preparing pheasant, quail, venison and rabbit dishes for show-goers to sample.
  • A new program called the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund will launch at Pheasant Fest. Landowners will be able to enroll in the program, funded by private firms and nonprofits. Under the program, landowners will be provided seeds for grassland plant species that benefit both pollinators and upland game.
  • At the landowners help desk, Pheasants Forever biologists will help landowners create a conservation plan for their property to increase habitat for pheasants, quail, turkey, deer and other species.

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