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Introducing the USA Fencing Experience, a Family Friendly Pop-Up Space in Downtown Minneapolis

06/24/2022, 12:45pm CDT
By Bryan Wendell

The new pop-up space located just a 15-minute walk from the world’s largest fencing tournament will give families a fun and easy way to learn more about a sport some call “physical chess.”


The USA Fencing Experience in downtown Minneapolis will introduce more people to this impactful sport.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — With a tournament this big, one venue can’t hold it all. 

While this year’s USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge — the world’s largest fencing tournament — is happening at the Minneapolis Convention Center, a new pop-up space located just a 15-minute walk from the venue will give families a fun and easy way to learn more about a sport some call “physical chess.”

The USA Fencing Experience, open from July 1–10 (except July 4), will enable visitors to learn more about fencing, watch fencers practice and even try the sport themselves.

  • Location: City Center, 33 South Sixth Street, Suite 165, Minneapolis. Guests should enter on Nicollet Mall between 6th and 7th streets.
  • Hours:
    • July 1–3: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • July 4: Closed
    • July 5–9: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed from 2 to 4 p.m. on July 7 and July 8)
    • July 10: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Admission: The USA Fencing Experience is free and open to the public.

The space is made possible thanks to a generous contribution from Kurtis Fechtmeyer and Alison Townley, as well as support from Allina Health, Absolute Fencing, Zesa Fitness and Nike. 

Fechtmeyer works as managing director at Northland Securities. His wife, Townley, is a two-time Olympic rower (1988 and 1992) who serves as vice president of advancement for the American College of Greece.

The couple chose to support the USA Fencing Experience because they understand that the power of sport reaches far beyond the fields, rivers and fencing strips that host athletic competitions.

“Sports such as fencing that bring the international community together in the spirit of competition, dedication and excellence are more important than ever,” Townley says. “We hope to do everything we can to promote and support American participation in these sports.”

Fencing, Fechtmeyer continues, is best understood when it is experienced. Many Americans watched foil fencer Lee Kiefer win Olympic gold last summer in Tokyo, but Fechtmeyer wants those fans to take their interest deeper.

“This space was designed with the help of USA Fencing to encourage all stages of interest in the sport — from the joy of discovery to the highest level of competition,” Fechtmeyer says. “It’s about making the sport tangible, real and approachable for people who may have only watched a few minutes from the Olympics.”

Special Events at the USA Fencing Experience

Visitors are welcome at the USA Fencing Experience any time it’s open (see the hours above). The space will host a pair of special events that are also free and open to the public. 

  • July 5: College Day
    • When: Hourlong panel discussions and Q&A at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. 
    • What: A chance for high school fencers to understand how their skills on the strip could help them get into a great school and even earn a scholarship. College coaches will be there to discuss the recruiting process and some dos and don’ts of reaching out to coaches.
  • July 6: Leadership Academy
    • When: 4 to 5 p.m.
    • What: Celebrate the 2020 and 2021 Leadership Academy graduates – light refreshments will be provided.  
  • July 8: Kids Day
    • When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • What: A chance for kids to learn more about fencing, meet some fencing celebrities and say hello to Goldy Gopher, the mascot of the University of Minnesota. 

Kurtis Fechtmeyer (second from right), Alison Townley (middle) and their family. The USA Fencing Experience was made possible thanks to the generosity of Fechtmeyer and Townley.

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