DULUTH — The third annual Bowfest is set for July 25-28 at Mont du Lac recreation area on Minnesota Highway 23 just south of Duluth.
Bowfest is billed as the largest outdoor 3D archery shoot in the region, aimed at bowhunters who want to test their skills outdoors, in real-life hunting situations. It's timed just seven weeks before archery deer hunting season starts in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The event is also a celebration of the outdoors and country music, with big-name concerts, camping and a weekend of archery experts, manufacturers and cable TV celebrities. Clint Black is the top act on Friday, with Clay Walker on Saturday.
Mont du Lac is a ski and snowboarding hill in winter that's being transformed into more than 400 acres of archery fun with four courses with 60 realistic archery shots available at lifelike Rinehart targets. Archers can walk through the steep hills and valleys at Mont du Lac and can shoot from either beginner, hunter or pro stakes — like tees on a golf course — at each target. Be prepared to walk through and shoot from challenging terrain — including in deep woods, down and up steep slopes and across ravines. Each course takes between two and three hours to complete.
There’s also a nighttime shoot under the lights, thousands of dollars in prize money and a major shed antler display. Fireworks are scheduled both Friday and Saturday night and a playground, bounce-house and other kids activities every day.
Bowfest started in 2017, the idea of Larry Pulkrabek, who owns Mont du Lac and whose bowhunting businesses have marketed popular archery products such as the Ravin crossbow and Field Logic targets. He has since sold those companies but remains active in the industry. The first Bowfest event attracted about 300 people. Organizers say last year’s Bowfest drew as many as 3,000 attendees. They're hoping for 8,000 or more this year.
Food and merchandise vendors will be on site and events include a night shoot (under the ski hill lights with lighted arrows and targets) and a 200-yard Ravin Crossbow shoot.
Lodging and camping are available on-site.
This year’s celebrity line-up includes Michael Waddell of Bone Collector, Levi Morgan of Bow Life TV, Tim Wells of Relentless Pursuit, Pat and Nicole Reeve of Driven TV, Melissa Bachman of Winchester Deadly Passion, Brent and Nicole Larson of Field of Dreams TV, Lauren Wells of B105 FM radio station.
A four-day pass is $149, including archery shoots and concerts. Children 12 and younger are free. For more information, camping reservations or to buy tickets online go to mdlresort.com or call 218-626-3797. (The Bowfest website recently added individual concert tickets for either Clay Walker or Clint Black for $39.99 each night.)
Mont du Lac is located along Highway 23 just south of Duluth's Fond du Lac neighborhood, but on the Wisconsin side of the St. Louis River.