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Cindy Wannarka - Leech Lake Chamber President/CEO

Meet Your Chamber: Cindy Wannarka

Name: Cindy Wannarka


Title: President/CEO


Family: I was born in Morris MN and grew up on a farm until moving to St Paul to attend school. I have been married to my husband Paul for 42 years! Through his career with the Minnesota DNR we have lived in a number of places in Minnesota including: North St. Paul (when we got married), Faribault (Nerstrand Woods State Park), Hinckley (St. Croix State Park), McGregor (Savanna Portage State Park) Tower and then Soudan (Soudan Underground Mine State Park) for almost 20 years while our two children grew up. Then we moved to Bemidji, MN which is how I got into my present job.


We have two children, our son Weston (Mandy and two grandchildren: Logan & Elena), and our daughter Courtney (Eric). They all live in the metro area but enjoy heading north when time allows.


How long have you lived in the Leech Lake area/which part of the Leech Lake area do you currently live? We actually live up near Bemidji but I spend many more hours in Walker and on Leech Lake than near our home. We have lived here 16 years and plan on many more.


How long have you been with the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce? I started at Leech Lake Area Chamber January of 2006, can hardly believe how many years have gone by!


What brought you to the Chamber? When we moved to the area I knew I wanted to work year-round and not just at a seasonal job. I saw an ad for the Leech Lake Chamber position and dropped off my application on my way to do some Christmas shopping in Brainerd. I was surprised to get an interview, then a second interview, and I can’t tell you how excited I was when they called to offer me the position — right before the holidays. WOW, did I have a lot to learn! I am forever thankful to those people who immediately came to the office to offer their support.


You have one day in Walker, Minnesota. What’s your itinerary? 

Summer it would be a day on the lake stopping on a sandbar, enjoying a swim and later eating dinner at one of the many dining options on the lake.

Fall it would be a ride or hike on one of the trails and in the winter – sledding at Shingobee Hill with the grandkids. No matter what time of year, we alway save time to do a little shopping and eating!


Loved ones are visiting the Leech Lake area for the first time. Where are your three MUST visit spots? This has happened so many times! Depending on the age of the visitors we love going to the Farmer’s Market, stopping in at Portage Brewing, eating outdoors and stopping in a few of the shops. Of course taking in the lake and if kids are involved the playground equipment in the park.


What do you love most about Walker and the Leech Lake area? Walker being located on the shores of Leech Lake has always amazed me — how many people can look out of their window at work and see that beautiful site? This small community of less than 1000 people can accomplish so much and have such pride in the community that they live in.


What’s your favorite dinner out in the Leech Lake area? For a special occasion I love the Crab Crusted Grouper, something I can not make at home and it is always a treat. But pizza or a burger or BBQ certainly hits the spot most days.


What’s your favorite breakfast or brunch spot in the Leech Lake area? Breakfast is my favorite meal to eat out: loaded hash browns, a breakfast sandwich or a fresh caramel roll are ways I love to start my day.


Where can community members find you shopping? Did you say shopping??? I love to shop! You can find me most anywhere in Walker when I have the time to get out to do some shopping, you just can’t go wrong anywhere you go. I think that is why I work at a chamber of COMMERCE!

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