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Spreading the word

Promotional video highlights recreation in Fort Dodge; OHV park, biking trails and fishing are featured

-Submitted photo
Travis Jass, of Fort Dodge, Travis climbs the “bell ringer” portion of upper Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Trail. The trails were highlighted in a promotional video released by the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau in August.

A promotional video which highlights mountain biking, off-highway vehicle trails and fishing opportunities in Fort Dodge was released in August.

The video was a collaboration between the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Travel Iowa. It was filmed in June.

Kerrie Kuiper, executive director of the FDCVB, said the video focuses on three main areas that would be accessible and “relatively safe” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those areas include: the Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Trail, the Gypsum City OHV Park and fishing along the Des Moines River.

“In the spring (2020), we knew COVID would hit the tourism industry,” Kuiper said. “So we wanted to select three relatively safe activities you could do individually or in a small group. We also knew that people would be looking for natural, outdoor type of activities. We knew these three would have a strong draw to that group.”

-Submitted photo
Volunteers work on the Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Trail.

Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich narrates the less than two-minute video.

“I was lucky enough to narrate the video and invite people to discover Fort Dodge and the exciting things we have been adding when it relates to quality of life and recreation,” he said. ”It was a great opportunity to talk about the hard work we have done and how people can come here and benefit from it and have a good time.”

Bemrich said he popularity of the OHV Park has increased each year since it opened about six years ago.

“The OHV Park is a unique place in the state of Iowa and maybe even in the entire Midwest,” Bemrich said. “It’s a large area to come to dirt bike, ATV. Now with the addition of camping and access to the ponds, it’s further enhanced with camping and fishing.

“People have been coming here from out of town and are amazed that we had mountain bike trails or amazed at the opportunity to access water when people think they are just coming to vast farmland. (This is) letting them know there’s a lot more to our region to gain that recreational opportunity — using the land, using the water. That video gets to tell that story.”

Kuiper said the OHV Park has 65 miles of trails. It’s managed by Webster County Conservation.

“It has a campground,” she said. “Safety training tracks for young people. They even have some tiny homes for rent. Fishing is available out there as well. Vehicles do have to be registered in the state of Iowa to ride out there.”

The Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Trail has nine miles of single track trail. There’s beginner trails along the Des Moines River. It also includes medium and advanced trails.

“It was a very dedicated group that created the Lizard Creek Mountain Bike Trail,” Kuiper said. ”Those volunteers helped us with the filming of the park as well. The Fort Dodge Mountain Biking Club developed the trails along water access number one.”

Fishing along the river continues to be a favorite activity for locals.

“That has historically been very strong,” Kuiper said. “Now with the dams taken out, from what we are hearing, the fishing will improve as time goes on. Plus we have Brushy Creek (State Recreation Area) just down the road and that is known statewide for its fishing.”

Through Travel Iowa, FDCVB also made a 30-second commercial, which aired for two-and-a-half months on cable networks.

“We are utilizing it in different ways to promote the area to potential travelers,” Kuiper said. “Everything we have heard has been very positive. Since the videos, the mountain bike trails have been much busier. The Gypsum City OHV Park has never been busier this year. We believe it is making a difference.”

The video highlighting Fort Dodge can be viewed on www.fortdodgecvb.com.

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