What could be better than relaxing on an outdoor terrace on a beautiful summer day? Well, I guess it would be better if I had some nice scenery to gaze upon while I’m sitting in my chair, so is it okay if we pick a terrace next to a lake or river somewhere? Come to think of it, I heard that they are shooting off fireworks over the St. Croix River for the 4th of July, so maybe I’ll head to a terrace near there where I can watch the yachts go by during the afternoon and also see the fireworks at night. It’s going to be a long day, though, so I think I’ll probably need a bite to eat while I’m there. Speaking of biting, have you tried any of those walleye bites? My mouth is watering just thinking of their crisp, juicy deliciousness. Minnesota sure makes a good tasting fish. All of those walleye bites are probably going to make me thirsty though, so I may as well get an ice-cold beer to go along with my fish. There’s just something about fried fish and beer, especially on a warm summer’s day when you’re sitting on a terrace overlooking the St. Croix River. Would you mind getting a drink coaster for me while you’re up though? This beer is sliding all over the table.
Starting soon, fish eating, beer drinking, soda slurping patrons like myself will start finding coasters with the most unusual message sitting under their drinks. “Save the fish…then eat em!” proclaim the coasters, which will be appearing in bars and restaurants throughout the St. Croix Valley in July as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the St. Croix River and get people involved in projects to clean up their local lakes, rivers and streams. Coaster distribution is timed to coincide with a 17-day paddle that will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the St. Croix River Association. More than 400 people will participate in all or part of the journey from the headwaters of the St. Croix River in Solon Springs, Wisconsin to its confluence with the Mississippi in Prescott. This centennial celebration offers the perfect opportunity for partners from the East Metro Water Resource Education Program, a city – watershed – county collaborative in Washington County, to reach out to people that live, work and recreate in the area. They’re hoping that people will see the coasters, think, “Beer… mmm… fish… mmm… prizes,” and then do something to help keep our water clean.
“Flip the fish to win!” say the coasters, and when people do, they will find a web address as well as one of those new QR codes for smart phones. At the website people can sign-up for the St. Croix 360 e-newsletter to enter the prize contest and keep up-to-date on special events and activities happening in the valley. They can also tap into resources to help them with planting projects like raingardens and wildlife habitat that help to reduce runoff water pollution. Those who live in Washington County can click on an icon at the bottom of the page to schedule a free site visit at their home with the Washington Conservation District and get free design assistance and often funding to begin their clean water planting projects.
Several area businesses have lent their support to help save our palatable fish. JJ Taylor, a Minneapolis area beer distributor, volunteered to bring the coasters to bars and restaurants throughout Washington and Chisago Counties and to print up promotional posters for the event. Stillwater’s Lift Bridge Brewery is also helping to distribute the coasters in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, in addition to offering a private tour for ten of the brewery and Lift Bridge apparel as prizes. Other prizes include $350 worth of fishing gear from Bearz Sport in White Bear Lake, a guided fishing trip on the St. Croix River with Charles “Turk” Gierke from Croixsippi Fishing Guide Service, and two straight shaft canoe paddles from Bending Branches in Osceola.
Part of the fun for St. Croix Valley residents and visitors will be finding the fish coasters in local bars and restaurants. 100,000 of them have been distributed throughout the area, but I actually have no idea which establishments have them. The way I figure it, the best way to find the coasters is to just start hitting the pubs and eateries around the valley working your way systematically from Hastings to Taylors Falls. Since it’s summertime, you might want to put a priority on those with outdoor terraces. If they’re next to a lake or river that you can gaze upon, that would be even better. Of course, you might get thirsty along the way, so you might have to stop somewhere in town first to get a drink. While you’re there, you may as well get some walleye bites to satisfy your hunger. Someone told me we’ve got pretty tasty fish around here, you know.
Learn more about the St. Croix River anniversary paddle at www.scrapaddle.org.
Enter the contest and help save the fish at www.stcroix360.com.