APPLETON, Wis. – With a thump, the tip of Brianna Funke’s knife sinks into the wooden target.
Funke is in the first rounds of the weekend World Ax and Knife Throwing USA Pro-Am Championships hosted in Appleton, Wisconsin.
“It’s just fun for me. I’m not doing this to win, I’m not doing this to be serious. If I win, it’s cool, but really, it’s just people,” Funke said. “I come for people and friendships. We are like a big, weird family.”
She traveled to Wisconsin with about 15 other people from the Des Moines, Iowa, area.
“Only six hours, that’s not bad,” Funk said of the drive time. “I think we drove 12 hours to get to the worlds in Texas two years ago and it wasn’t even terrible.”
Matt Ten Haken from Fox Cities Convention and Tourism Bureau (CVB) said the four-day event is expected to bring more than 300 competitors and their families and friends to Appleton.
Officials said it’s expected to bring half a million dollars in spending to the city and surrounding area.
“Four or five times a year we’ll go to trade shows to try to find good deals to bring into town,” Ten Haken said. “We also scour the internet and trade publications to find the right events that are right for our venues and our community. We do this every day.”
Ten Haken, director of sports marketing for the Fox Cities CVB, is one of two people in the bureau focused on attracting sporting events to the Fox Valley.
“We have about 240 sporting events every year that bring visitors to the area,” he said. “This results in approximately $10 million in direct visitor spending that comes out of visitors’ pockets and directly into businesses in the surrounding area.”
This includes people like Funke who have traveled for more than the competition.
“Because it’s one of the bigger tournaments of the year, I see everything at once,” she said. “It’s nice because sometimes you can go months or even a year without seeing everyone and it’s like one big family reunion.”
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