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Medallion found as Winterfest begins

After a total of 98 votes from chili taste testers, Chad Cummings (left) presented Andy Johnson, executive director of the Worthington Area YMCA, with the People’s Choice Award of the Winterfest Chili Cook-Off on Friday night. (ERIN TRESTER/DAILY GLOBE)1 / 4
Kelly Nickel (left) and Susanne Murphy, representing the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce’s Winterfest Committee, pose with the $100 in Chamber Checks won by Nickel for finding the Winterfest medallion. (RYAN McGAUGHEY/DAILY GLOBE)2 / 4
Morgan LeBrun, 16, a junior at Worthington High School, was crowned 2014 Winterfest Queen at the Winterfest opening ceremony. (ERIN TRESTER/DAILY GLOBE)3 / 4
Shown are the first-place winners of the Winterfest Chili Cook-Off, Jaime Salinas (left) and Chad Cummings of Radio Works. They were chosen by a panel of celebrity judges. 4 / 4

WORTHINGTON — It’s going to be a very memorable weekend for Kelly Nickel.

Nickel, of Worthington, will jump into Lake Okabena today as part of the Winterfest celebration’s Deep Freeze Dip event. Afterward, she’ll be attending a bridal shower in her honor, followed by a belated family Christmas celebration on Sunday to be attended by a sister from Oklahoma whom she rarely sees.

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On top of all that, she now has $100 in Chamber checks to spend after finding the Winterfest medallion late Thursday afternoon.

Nickel, who works as a paraprofessional with fifth-grade special education students at Worthington Middle School, had Thursday off due to the inclement weather. It was husband-to-be C.J. Nelson who told her in the latter part of the day that a new medallion clue had been released.

“We go the Regatta all the time and we figured it (medallion) had to be under the sculpture for sure,” Nickel said Friday morning.

The clue that resulted in the successful location of the medallion:

Once a year on the shores of Lake Okabena

There is entertainment you’d find in a big city arena.

Surfers on the water and music in the air

Go to this place and you will find me there!

Nickel and Nelson promptly went down to Sailboard Beach, and Nickel went out to look for the medallion while Nelson waited in their vehicle. 

“It was in, like, two feet of snow,” Nickel said. “If it snowed anymore, I wouldn’t have seen it. I kicked it out of the snow and walked back the truck, waving it around.”

Nickel said she doesn’t usually spend much time looking for medallions at Winterfest or King Turkey Day because she’s working during the day. Still, she enjoys reading the clues, and figured Thursday that finding it was worth a shot.

It turns out the finding the Chamber’s little treasure was the perfect start to her weekend. In addition to her bridal shower and family Christmas, she’ll jump during the Deep Freeze Dip after WMS students raised nearly $700 on her behalf.

“It’s been insane so far, but it’s going to be a great weekend,” she said.”

Friday night’s Winterfest events included the first-ever chili cookoff and the crowning of the Winterfest Queen. Today’s activities will include a Southwest Minnesota Fishing Tournament as well as the Deep Freeze Dip.

Here are the other medallion hunt clues, in the order they appeared (the final clue was unreleased); 

* What better way to kick off Winterfest

Than by partaking in the medallion quest?

$100 in Chamber Checks is the prize

If you’re the first to spot it with your eyes!

* Wondering what direction your search should take?

Definitely start out by the lake!

It’s a great place to stop and fish

Or look up at the stars and make a wish.

* Nobody has found the medallion yet

But someone will spot it very soon I bet!

This morning when the hunters embark

They would be wise to look in a park.

* Day number 4 and it’s still in hiding

Despite these daily clues that I’m providing.

Luckily the clues have not ceased

Today I tell you to look to the East

* Once a year on the shores of Lake Okabena

There is entertainment you’d find in a big city arena.

Surfers on the water and music in the air

Go to this place and you will find me there!

* With this final clue I’m no longer out of reach

Come and find me at Sailboard Beach.

You’re going to feel really smart

When you see me by the colorful work of art!

Daily Globe Managing Editor Ryan McGaughey may be reached at 376-7320.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

(507) 376-7320