Rapala and Outdoor News Celebrate 50th Anniversary of their Weekly Photo Contest.
Launched in 1971, contest is one of the longest running in the outdoor media industry, creating memories for thousands of anglers in Minnesota and the Midwest
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota — There are traditions that endure. There are traditions that need to change. And there are traditions that reflect change over time.
With the opening of Minnesota’s fishing season, which starts on the second Sunday of every May, begins another season of the Outdoor News-Rapala Weekly Photo Contest in Minnesota Outdoor News, one of the most well-read outdoor publications in Minnesota covering fishing, hunting and many other outdoor activities.
This year will be extra special – as Outdoor News and Rapala USA celebrate the 50th anniversary of both the contest and the long partnership between two organizations. The weekly photo contest may quite possibly be one of the longest running contests in the world of recreational fishing.
Each week, on its front page, from May through mid-September, Outdoor News publishes the photo of an angler, submitted to the publication, beaming with pride as they hold up a fish caught with a Rapala fishing lure. Under the photo, a short cutline shares the name of the angler and their hometown, and at times, which Rapala lure was used to catch the fish in the photo. If the angler said they released the fish, a little banner across the corner of the photo that says “Catch and Release.”
The contest, called the Outdoor News-Rapala Weekly Photo Contest was started 50 years ago in 1971 when one of the co-owners of Normark Corporation, the Minnesota-based company that distributed Rapala lures throughout the United States and Canada at the time, approached the original owner, Jim Peterson, a former long-time sportswriter for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune newspapers, who had started the Outdoor News in 1968.
“As I was told, it took some convincing for Jim to do the contest,” said Glenn Meyer, the publisher and owner of Outdoor News, who purchased the publication from Jim Peterson in 1987. “but eventually, Ray Ostrom, one of Normark’s co-owners, convinced him it would be good for his readership, and of course, good for Rapala lures, too.”
When Meyer took over the reins of Outdoor News, he knew instantly that he wanted to continue the contest tradition, and over the years, the publication expanded the contest, in partnership with Rapala, to other state editions of Outdoor News. Today, the Outdoor News-Rapala Weekly Photo Contest is offered in the Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois and Ohio editions of Outdoor News, as well as in Minnesota – in print, through the publication’s website, and through the social media.
“I was a long-time subscriber to Outdoor News,” said Meyer. “I loved the contest and I knew that it was important to continue it because it creates a great interaction with our readers.”
“We are proud of this long-standing tradition and partnership with Outdoor News,” said Matt Jensen, director of marketing for Rapala USA, “Online and through their newspapers, it allows us to connect the Rapala brand with everyday folks of all generations who love fishing. Part of its charm is its multi-generational connection with families. There are a lot of proud grandpas who submit photos of their grandkids to our contest. Year-in and year-out, it’s been one of our most successful promotions.”
Reflecting Change in Fishing
Over time, Meyer has noticed how the photos submitted in contest began to reflect the changes happening in fishing.
“As catch and release started to catch on, our readers would write that they ‘caught and released’ the fish that was photographed,” said Meyer. “We also noticed fewer stringers of fish in photos, more photos of women, and kids, and people of color. But what’s common to nearly every photo is a big smile of pride.”
Eric Meyer, photo manager for Outdoor News, who has been judging the contest for the last 32 years, says more than 4,000 people have won the contest’s prize, typically a selection of Rapala lures, a Rapala fillet knife and other assorted goodies. Over the years, the publication has received more than 30,000 entries, many of which were published in the paper as non-winners. The fish most likely to be photographed include walleye, northern pike and largemouth and smallmouth bass. And as for which lure has caught the most fish, it’s a toss-up between the Original Floating Rapala and the Rapala Shad Rap, two of the most popular-selling fishing lures in the world.
“As you look through the photos that have been submitted over the years,” said Eric Meyer, “you also notice how anglers became better at composing their photos. The quality of the photos has improved dramatically, too, as we shifted from receiving printed photos, which were mailed to us, to receiving high resolution photos taken on mobile phone cameras.”
“I think the contest played a big role in shaping how anglers cared for our fishing resources,” said Glenn Meyer. “We didn’t preach about catch-and-release or displaying a stringer of walleyes, instead, we let the photos tell the story, and I think that’s why fishing in Minnesota has never been better. These are the good ol’ days now.”
“At the end of the day, this contest is all about memories,” said Meyer. “There’s still something special about seeing your photo in a newspaper holding up a fish. I’m proud that we’ve created a lot of memories for families across our country.”
Caught a fish on a Rapala? Enter the 50th anniversary of the Outdoor News-Rapala Weekly Photo Contest — enter now at https://www.outdoornews.com/submit-a-photo/
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