By Blaze Fugina Community Editor
At this year’s Spirit of the Lakes Festival, a medallion hunt for the chance to win $500 was a new attraction for those in attendance.
The medallion was hidden somewhere in Mound, and the clues were written by Mayor Mark Hanus. The medallion did not take long to find during the almost two week festival, as winner Gary Stueven ended the hunt in the first weekend of Spirit of the Lakes.
"Well, actually, it took about an hour," he said. "We kind of narrowed it down into the Greenway area (of Mound)."
The clues were posted on the city and Spirit of the Lakes websites. Stueven said that he was able to narrow the location of the medallion down to the dock area by the Lost Lake, where it was eventually found hidden in an enclosed area.
"The clues kind of indicated that you wouldn’t have to climb or dig," he said.
With the small size of Mound, Hanus said there was some difficulty coming up with clues and a hiding place for the medallion.
"It’s a simple matter of pacing the clues to be generic at first and much more specific as it progresses," he said. "However, it’s not easy to gage this. Mound is a small town with limited places to hide it."
The idea for the first ever Spirit of the Lakes medallion hunt came from the St. Paul Winter Carnival, which holds a search of its own every February.
"Of course, that is on a much bigger scale," said Hanus. "I have never participated in a medallion hunt or operated one before, so it was definitely a learning experience for me."
The medallion hunt brought out many people aiming to win the jackpot. Stueven said he saw numerous people searching on the Greenway the day he found the medallion.
"I was very impressed with the number of people out," he said. "It caught the enthusiasm of many people."
Hanus said he was happy with the outcome of the first ever Spirit of the Lakes medallion hunt.
"But I would have preferred that it took longer to find," he said. "But you never know if you are going to get a professional hunter looking or if someone will be incredibly lucky and stumble across it. From what people have told me, many hunters walked right over it without knowing."
If a medallion event is planned next year with Hanus involved, he said he will try to make the search time longer for hunters.
"If there is a next time, and I am asked to be involved, it will be a tougher," he said. "You just don’t want it so tough that no one finds it. That would not be fun either."
Stueven was presented with the $500 prize at a Saturday afternoon ceremony on the Surfside Park stage at the Spirit of the Lakes Festival. He was presented with a glass filled with $100 in dollar coins, and $400 in bills.
When asked about what he will do with the prize, Stueven said he has charitable intentions for at least some of the money he earned in the medallion hunt.
"My friends have always raised me to give back to god and my community," he said. "I already gave a quantity to the Westonka Food Shelf."
Will there be a medallion hunt next year at Spirit of the Lakes? Hanus said that decision has not been made yet.
"That’s not for me to say, that is up to the festival board," he said. "But I heard they liked the idea so much that they would like to consider keeping it going. Only time will tell."