Austin, Minn., will become the epicenter of upland bird hunting this weekend when the city hosts the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener.

Gov. Tim Walz will lead the opening weekend festivities, which highlight attractions in and around Austin. It’s his first pheasant opener as governor, but Walz previously attended the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener while serving as a U.S. congressman.

“I’m excited to be in Austin for the ninth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener,” Walz said. “I’m grateful for the generous landowners and countless community members who are going to make this an outstanding opener in Austin this year.”

The event begins with a land dedication at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is working with Pheasants Forever and the Austin Area Foundation to create a new wildlife management area in Mower County.

On Friday evening, the public is invited to join Walz and other dignitaries for a community banquet at the Austin Holiday Inn. The event will run from 5-8:30 p.m., with a social hour, dinner and a program featuring the governor and local community leaders. Tickets are $35 and available by calling Discover Austin at 507-437-4563. After the banquet, The Voice contestant Chris Kroeze will perform a free concert at Torge’s Live.

Hunters will take to the field Saturday morning for the pheasant hunt. In the afternoon, the public is invited to enjoy a dog parade and Dock Dogs jumping demonstration in downtown Austin. At 3 p.m., nationally-renowned recording artist and Austin native Martin Zellar and The Hardways will perform at the Mower County Fairgrounds for a free concert. An Oktoberfest celebration will follow at the Austin VFW.

With a population of 24,563, Austin is the seat of Mower County and is located at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 218, approximately 10 miles from the Iowa state line. The city actively promotes hunting, travel opportunities and outdoor recreation.

More information and updates on the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener can be found at exploreminnesota.com/mngpho.