WED AM News: State Dart Tournament organizers expecting big event this year; Farm sustainability effort seeing results

— Organizers for the annual State Dart Tournament are hopeful this year’s competition will be the largest in its nearly 40-year history. 

“By the entries that I have in so far, we’re up about 10 percent from last year,” said Dale Saunders, of Appleton, who’s been the tournament director since 1984. “At this point, I have 908 teams registered … last year we had 800.” 

The tournament, organized by Wisconsin Amusement and Music Operators, has been held each year since then, except for 2020 when it was canceled due to the pandemic. In a recent interview, Saunders said last year’s event in Green Bay brought in over 10,000 visitors, while this year it’s expected to draw as many as 11,000. 

He noted the tournament has been growing “almost every year” since its inception. If not for the pandemic, this year’s event would have been the 38th in a row, he said. 

The 2022 tournament will be held in the Wisconsin Dells between May 18-22. Participants must have played at least 60 games in a WAMO-sanctioned league prior to the tournament, which usually includes about 21 divisions of teams organized by prior performance, according to WAMO Executive Director Amanda Soelle. 

She says the group needs about 65,000 square feet for the tournament, which typically rotates between La Crosse, Green Bay and the Wisconsin Dells. Plus, the host city needs to have enough nearby hotels to handle the influx of players and their families.

“The last time that we were in Green Bay, their economic impact that they gave us was $3.1 million for the city, just for our tournament being there for a week,” Soelle said. 

Mike Weigel, of Brookfield, is the event committee co-chair. He highlighted the economic impact for nearby bars and restaurants.  

“Whenever you go to La Crosse, it’s a college town anyways, but you’ll see signs in all the bars’ windows, ‘welcome darters,’” he said. “They host their own little in-house tournaments in the evenings and afternoons for other people who aren’t shooting in the league … so it’s actually great for all the other businesses.” 

Along with negotiating venue contracts, the committee is tasked with coordinating vendors of beer and liquor, as well as others selling products like t-shirts and jerseys. He said this organizing work begins nearly six months before the actual tournament, though he noted Saunders works on coordinating the event nearly year-round. 

“This would not run without Dale, or as smooth as it does,” Weigel said. “My hat’s off to everything he does. It’s absolutely astounding how much work he gets done.” 

He added that while the tournament attracts some of the best dart players in the world, the dart community is “very friendly” and open to newcomers. Weigel recommends anyone who’s interested in joining next year’s tournament should get involved with one of the local leagues. 

“Darts is a really, really big thing in our state, so we’re lucky enough to be doing this in the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “But I mean there’s guys here that are hitting three bullseyes — which is a hat-trick — every round. I’ve witnessed a couple perfect games … it’s amazing how good these division one shooters are.” 

— A farming sustainability effort in Lafayette County is lowering greenhouse gas emissions, energy usage and sediment loss in the watershed. 

That’s according to the latest report on the pilot project, being undertaken by members of the Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance. Other partners include the nonprofit Farmers for Sustainable Food and the Grande Cheese Company based in Fond du Lac. 

Fifteen farmers are taking part in the initiative, now in its third year, which involves conservation practices tailored to their operations and tracking financial and environmental impacts. They aim to protect the environment while retaining profitability through efforts such as planting cover crops, using no-tillage and reduced tillage practices and creating nutrient management plans. 

These farmers have reduced measures of greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent between 2019 and 2021, the report shows. Meanwhile, the amount of energy used for producing their crops has decreased by 15 percent. 

At the same time, participating farmers are reducing sediment loss in the local watershed by an estimated 56,700 tons per year as of 2021, or the equivalent of 4,200 dump trucks, per the report. It also highlights an improvement in a cumulative water score, showing fewer nutrients are leaving these farmers’ fields and entering local streams and rivers. 

Jean Stauffacher, a participant and co-owner of Highway Dairy Farms in Darlington, says these results are rewarding to see. 

“We are rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work. There is still more to be done; we don’t have it all figured out,” she said in a statement. “But we realize this is a long-term commitment. Tailoring our practices and measuring results is becoming the standard way of doing business.”

While improvements in several metrics are being made, the report also shows land use by participating farmers has increased between 8 percent and 20 percent over the life of the project. That indicates a decline in efficiency for crop production, according to the report. 

Biodiversity at these farms has declined 2 percent between 2019 and 2021, meaning the farms “decreased their realized potential for habitat,” report authors noted. 

See the full report here: 

— Recipients of the UW System’s 2022 Regent Scholar Awards are developing methods for treating addiction and depression, addressing parasitic infections and creating chemicals for agricultural use. 

These faculty members will be recognized at the next Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, according to a release. Regent Robert Atwell, chair of the board’s Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee, says their projects “hold tremendous potential for helping people and communities.”

Recipients include: 

*Todd Hillhouse, an assistant professor in UW-Green Bay’s Department of Psychology. His research focuses on discovering and developing drugs to treat substance use disorder and depression, which often go hand-in-hand. 

*John Chan, an assistant professor in UW-Oshkosh’s Department of Chemistry. He’s developing a new chemical compound to treat infections by parasitic flatworms, which cause diseases in both humans and animals. 

*Mark Levenstein, an assistant professor in UW-Platteville’s Department of Biology. His research project aims to create new chemicals for crop protection to combat the issue of pesticide resistance in agriculture. 

See more details on their work here:

— April marks the Doyenne Group’s 10th year in business, the Madison-based organization announced recently.

“After 10 years, our organization has certainly grown and changed,” Executive Director Heather Wentler said in a statement. “To be able to stay open 10 years is a great accomplishment regardless of the business sector. We’ve seen the community support us and have made huge gains in women-led businesses.”

Since launching in 2012, the organization says it has impacted more than 3,000 ventures, created a venture fund and launched its own accelerator. The nonprofit group supports and mentors women in the startup space. 

See more at Madison Startups: 

Listen to a podcast with Wentler: 


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