Summer street dance also in question, without Jaycees

Billed as the longest, continually running ice fishing contest in the state, the Pelican Rapids Jaycees-Lake Lida fishing derby will not be hosted this year. 

Sadly, the Pelican Jaycees will also cease to exist. The Jaycees were believed to have operated the fishing derby since the 1960s 

With membership down to about ten, the Jaycees voted late last year to disband, reported Brady Ballard, president. 

With the mild winter, and poor ice conditions, and the COVID pandemic, the fishing derby would have been unlikely anyway, said Ballard. 

“Organizations take a lot of dedication and time, and people just don’t have as much time. And, people who are involved tend to be the same ones involved in a multitude of other activities,” said Ballard, of the Jaycees fate. “And COVID surely hasn’t helped anything.” 

Without a Jaycees organization, the Pelican Fest street dance and popular bean bag toss tournament will also end—unless another group or organization steps in. Ballard said that the Jaycees own a semi trailer, which was used to stage the bands for the summer street dance. The trailer would be given to any group that wishes to carry on the dance, said Ballard. 

The exact history of the Jaycees in Pelican Rapids is not certain, but newspaper records indicate that the club dates back to at least the 1960s. Earlier versions may date back even further. 

The Lake Lida Fishing Derby was actually launched by the Pelican Rapids Fire Department, but is believed to have been a Jaycees event since the 1960s. 

The decline of civic organizations and service groups is a nationwide issue—from Rotary to Lions to Masons and Elks. 

The Pelican Rapids Lions disbanded about two years ago. The Pelican Rapids Rotary Club has been relatively stable but membership numbers are down over the past ten years. A bright spot is the Dunvilla Lions Club, formed several years ago. 

Members of the dissolved Jaycees may be encouraged to join the Rotary or Dunvilla Lions. 

The Pelican Rapids Chamber of Commerce has also encountered volunteer shortages. Membership increase is a priority for new Chamber President John Waller III.