July 10, 2014
GopherSports: What are some of the main points you think about when you think about Fergus Falls?
Josh Campion: I would say the landmarks. Fergus Falls has a big otter statue when you first come into town. You can’t miss it. It’s right on the lake. Other things I think about are the restaurants, the cafés. Fergus Falls is great for hunting and fishing. I think that’s a major attraction.
GS: What’s the size of the town?
JC: It’s big for out there, but compared to the Cities it’s small.
GS: What are some of your favorite memories of growing up in Fergus Falls?
JC: Great memories would have to be winning the conference title in football my senior year, and hunting and fishing with my friends growing up. Those are really fond memories.
GS: Fergus Falls has been called a “Tree City USA” since 1978, the longest of any Minnesota city. Is that an accurate distinction?
JC: I know if you look at the topography and the geological location of Fergus, it’s right at the intersection of three landscapes. If you look west, it’s kind of prairie, farmland. If you look north, it’s heavily wooded. If you look southeast and east, it’s just lakes. Lakes are all over everything.
GS: It sounds like there are 1,000-plus lakes in Otter Tail County. How many do you think you’ve been to?
JC: I’ve been to a lot. I actually have a job in the spring where I work on the lakes. It’s phenomenal. My brother lives on a lake. I grew up on a lake. It’s common up there that either you know somebody on a lake or you’re on a lake.
GS: Which lake did you grow up on?
JC: Swan Lake.
GS: What other lakes are good up there?
JC: Otter Tail is huge—Otter Tail Lake in Otter Tail County. Hoot Lake’s in Fergus. It’s right on the border of the town. Pelican Rapids, that might be a little farther north. There are literally thousands up there to name.
GS: What is your job in the spring?
JC: Dock and lift services.
GS: How long have you done that?
JC: I’ve done it at my parents’ place since—I can’t even remember. I’ve always helped. It just transitioned from working and putting our own in, to actually working as a service.
GS: Is it pretty hard work?
JC: It’s continuous lifting. I love lifting weights, and I love being outside with my buddies, so I really enjoy it.
GS: Fergus Falls is in Otter Tail County, the high school teams are called the Otters and there’s a big otter statue there. Have you seen any actual otters?
JC: I’ve never seen an actual otter up there. How we got the name, to my knowledge, is that the bottom end of Otter Tail Lake is shaped like an otter’s tail. Otter Tail Lake is quite a few miles from Fergus, and the river runs through Fergus. I’m 90-percent sure it ends up in the Red River or the Minnesota River heading south.
GS: Is there a Main Street or a major street in Fergus Falls where there’s a lot going on?
JC: Not necessarily a lot of stuff going on. It’s kind of a quiet town, to be honest. We do have a main street where the Viking Café is. There are stores downtown. To my knowledge, Fergus has been branching west with big corporate stores. We have big auto dealerships, and there’s a ton of restaurants. That’s becoming the main part of town, I would say.
GS: What do you get to eat when you go to the Viking Café?
JC: I get the omelet. It was actually on WCCO’s best restaurants. It’s kind of funny because I got texts from friends, “Oh, did you see that the Viking was on WCCO?” I’ve been going there since I was a kid. It’s funny. They got exactly what I order, and they said it was the best in the state.
GS: Fergus Falls has a lot of Scandinavian heritage. Do you see any signs of that, like lutefisk, or hear the classic “Minnesota accent” when you’re at home?
JC: I do hear an accent when I go up there, just because I’ve been in Minneapolis for so long. The Viking is a Scandinavian Café, and that’s huge up there. My best friend’s nickname is Wege because he’s Norwegian. That’s part of the Scandinavian descent. I’m actually 50 percent Irish, then 25 Slovak, and the rest is just a mixture of European. As far as lutefisk and stuff like that, some of the cafés have specials on that. I’ve seen it around. I’ve had neighbors that had lefse.
GS: Fergus is about 20 miles from the North Dakota border. Are there some rivalries among Gopher fans and fans of North Dakota and North Dakota State sports?
JC: One of my best friends plays for North Dakota State and I really respect him and I respect what they have going on up there.
GS: How do the winters in the Twin Cities compare to the winters in Fergus Falls?
JC: The winters in Fergus are colder because it’s wide open, especially out on the lake. It’s ice. But more than the ice factor, I’d say the factor of being completely out in the open makes it significantly colder.
GS: According to Fergus Falls’ website, someone bought the city for $100 in 1870. Did he get a good deal?
JC: I think that’s a great deal. If I could buy Fergus for a hundred bucks, I would do it.
GS: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your hometown?
JC: Spreading Gopher football to the north would be amazing for me. If we could transition from other schools to our school, it would be awesome.
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