About the Club

The Watopa Retriever Club is very rich in history and proud to be a retriever field trial and retriever training club. A bit of history is needed to understand how we came to be.

Our club originally incorporated as the Tri-State Hunting Dog Association incorporated in Winona, Minnesota, on August 24, 1939. The club developed rapidly and the first annual AKC Licensed Retriever Field Trial was held on June 11-12, 1949, on Prairie Island in Winona, Minnesota. 

According to our Articles of Incorporation, the corporation’s general purpose is educational, social, moral, scientific, fraternal and reformatory, in the improvement of the training and education of hunting dogs and the instruction and education of the owners, handlers and persons in control of hunting dogs, the promoting of sociability, friendship and cooperation among the owners, handlers and persons in control of hunting dogs to induce and promote the conservation of wild life, the reduction or elimination of hunting accidents, and the efficiency of hunters and hunting dogs.

While most of our members have a strong desire to hunt their dogs, our club has primarily been comprised of members that have a desire to compete in AKC retriever field trials. In fact, our club has held several hundred informal retriever field trials since its inception and has held at least one national AKC licensed field trial each year since 1949.  Many of these trials had been with the help of the Zumbro Valley Retriever Club of Rochester, Minnesota. In 1993, after acquiring the Watopa Sportsman Club clubhouse and grounds near Weaver, Minnesota, the Tri-State Hunting Dog Association merged with the Zumbro Valley Retriever Club and changed its name to the “Watopa Retriever Club”. Watopa is said to mean River in the native Chippewa Indian language.

In early 1998, the Watopa Retriever Club purchased 38 acres of land to develop for retriever training. And in 2001, the club developed a four acre pond removing 30,000 cubic feet of black dirt for the development of a retriever training pond. This piece of property coupled with our clubhouse and the use of the McCarthy Wildlife Management Area and various privately owned pieces of property have been the backbone of keeping our club alive and thriving with retriever enthusiasts.

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