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Goin' to the Lake: Amelia and Erin head to Cameron-Chetek area in Wisconsin

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Goin' to the Lake Preview: Party Power Board in Chetek area 00:38

Our next Goin' to the Lake begins Wednesday with Amelia Santaniello and Erin Hassanzadeh visiting the Cameron-Chetek area of Wisconsin. 

Chetek is a great small town just two hours from the Twin Cities. It has about 2,300 year-round residents, but packs in a lot more during these summer months.

RELATED: Frank Vascellaro, Chris Shaffer and Shayla Reaves visited Glenwood

Downtown is filled with fun, family-owned shops and restaurants that cater to the visiting crowd. When you picture a thriving lakeside getaway in northern Minnesota or western Wisconsin: A town like this is likely what you picture. And it's called the City of Lakes for good reason.

Look for their special stories Wednesday and Thursday right here on WCCO. They have all kinds of fun activities planned for us.

Follow updates below. 


Cameron-Chetek recap!

Goin’ to the Lake: Cameron-Chetek recap 01:43

Amelia Santaniello and Erin Hassanzadeh share all their adventures while exploring Chetek, Wisconsin on Thursday!

By WCCO Staff

Fishing with Bimbo

Goin' to the Lake: Fishing the Chetek Chain 03:16

Despite this week's heat, summer is a great time to enjoy all that the great outdoors have to offer. And that, of course, includes fishing.

On Wednesday, Amelia and Erin introduced you to Bimbo Gifford and his Bimbo Skunk lures. Last night, they got the chance to go out fishing with him.

Observe their efforts below!

By WCCO Staff

Cruising the chain of lakes

Amelia and Erin kicked off their afternoon inside the bar at Buck 'n Beams Social House and Campground. That's both for heat and the potential for severe weather in Cameron.

They've had a great couple days in Cameron and Chetek. As you've seen, most of it was on the water, including a little pontoon cruise earlier today. The good folks at Lake Country Marina taught them everything there is to know about a Chetek chain of lakes boat day.

At the heart of Chetek is Lake Country Marina 02:55
By WCCO Staff

Hope and Anchor helps the team kick off the day

Erin Hassanzadeh and Amelia Santaniello are spending Thursday beating the heat in Cameron, Wisconsin. Our whole crew is being careful to stay as cool as possible.

They've spent a lot of time on the water the last couple of days, and on Thursday got a chance to start the day at a great coffee shop called Hope and Anchor.

Goin' to the Lake: Getting a jump on the day at Hope & Anchor 04:21
By WCCO Staff

"What could possibly go wrong?"

We heard that Lake Chetek has great fishing. So Amelia Santaniello and Erin Hassanzadeh are putting it to the test! With a good guide and great scenery, what could possibly go wrong?

Stay tuned!

We heard that Lake Chetek has great fishing - so Amelia Santaniello and Erin Hassanzadeh are putting it to the test!...

Posted by WCCO & CBS News Minnesota on Thursday, July 27, 2023
By WCCO Staff

A cheese curd cheers!

CHEESE CURD TOAST - Visiting cabin country in America’s Dairyland, Erin Hassanzadeh and Amelia Santaniello HAD to sample...

Posted by WCCO & CBS News Minnesota on Thursday, July 27, 2023
By WCCO Staff

Update from Chetek!

Amelia & Erin report from Chetek on Thursday 00:53
By WCCO Staff

Paddleboard Party on Lake Chetek

Goin’ to the Lake: Party Paddleboarding on Lake Chetek 02:57

Amelia and Erin took a lot of water breaks and kept in the shade and AC as much as possible Wednesday.

The hottest part of their day was actually out on the water in the sun – but at least they were on a party paddleboard!

You can rent one from Pelican Pedal and Paddle in Chetek.

By WCCO Staff

Another big attraction: Hydroflites Waterski Show

Goin’ to the Lake: Chetek Hydroflites Waterski Show 01:13

There are so many things to see and do on the Chetek chain of six lakes. One of the most popular is the weekly Chetek Hydroflites Waterski show. Amelia and Erin were lucky enough to catch a practice Tuesday night.

Just watching the practice is fun, with everything from jumps to ballet to a giant pyramid on the water.

The Hydroflites are 100% funded by sponsors, member dues, and donations.

The shows on Sunday nights at 6 p.m. are free, but you should arrive early, because the preshow starts at 5.

By WCCO Staff

The story behind Bimbo Skunk fishing lures

Goin’ to the Lake: Bimbo Skunk lures 03:07

One of the things many of us love about Minnesota and western Wisconsin is the opportunity to get out in nature. That includes fishing. Amelia and Erin found a longtime Cameron resident who invented his own, very successful fishing lure.

In the basement of the quiet, corner home with a beautiful garden in Cameron, Wisconsin is the humble headquarters of a fishing lure you'll want in your tackle box. A lure with beginnings nearly five decades ago.

"I got a fly-tying kit when I was 16 years old, and I started tying flies," Bimbo Gifford said. "Well, eventually I grew up, had kids, and my daughter -- she was only 4 years old -- couldn't cast a fly rod. So I started tying them on a jighead."

It was a fly with a stripe down the middle -- like a skunk. It started catching fish, lots of them. Soon enough people started noticing.

"And then a guide got ahold of it and it out-caught his lures seven-to-one," Gifford said. "I started selling to more sports shops then. I did not have a website or nothing, and people started calling me."

His son eventually helped him set up a website. The product is named after its inventor, who has gone by the name "Bimbo" since he was wee-high, thanks to a Jim Reaves song.

Whatever the name, the fish are biting, and the customers keep coming. Meaning Gifford and a few family helpers are always busy.

"I always wonder how many millions have been caught on my lure," Gifford said.

Gifford spent years in construction and retired last April as Cameron's assistant fire chief, so this is quite the side gig. He says he can do about 35 lures per hour.

By Amelia Santaniello

One of Chetek's quiet spots: Buck 'n Beams campgrounds

Buck ’n Beams is the perfect place for a social gathering 03:29

The chain of six lakes is the big draw here in Chetek, but it's not the only getaway you can enjoy. Tucked amongst the shady pines just south of Cameron, Wisconsin is a quiet campground -- Buck 'n Beams.

Greg Symbal and Chip Bell bought the place a couple of years ago. Chip still works remotely in the Twin Cities. Greg has given up corporate life.

"This spring I said goodbye and moved into the bar and campground life full time. And it's been great, no looking back," he said.

The draw is peace and quiet. The campground has 30 sites, from simple weekend spots to fancy all-summer setups. And if you're not into camping, stop by for dinner and a drink. 

Buck 'n Beams has Trivia Tuesday, live music Friday nights, and weddings, graduations, and other celebrations all year long.

The owners told Amelia and Erin they're right next to an ATV trail, so they get a lot of visitors spending time on the trails around Chetek.

You can book online for anywhere from a night to a few months.

By Erin Hassanzadeh

First stop: Checking out The Mad Batter in Cameron

Before Amelia and Erin found their way to Pokegama Lake in Chetek, they needed to fill up first.

Their first stop this morning was just up the road in Cameron, Wisconsin, at a little bakery called The Mad Batter.

Goin' to the Lake: Checking in at The Mad Batter 05:09
By WCCO Staff

Erin and Amelia have arrived in Cameron!

CHEERS - Frank, Chris and Shayla got their snacks at the gas station last week… so Erin Hassanzadeh and Amelia...

Posted by WCCO & CBS News Minnesota on Wednesday, July 26, 2023
By WCCO Staff
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