Winterfest slated for Saturday
WORTHINGTON — While the wind may be whipping up a good old-fashioned blizzard today, Saturday’s planned outdoor events for Worthington’s Winterfest celebration will be graced with somewhat balmy temperatures in the high 20s.
It will be downright perfect for the brave souls who signed up for the Deep Freeze Dip in Lake Okabena.
The dip is the main attraction of Winterfest, and this year at least 36 individuals will jump into the frigid lake waters off Sunset Park. Each dipper raised a minimum of $250 to jump in the lake, with proceeds this year going to the Wayne Klumper Heals Fund.
Klumper, who was injured in a motorcycle crash last summer, was instrumental in youth activities at the YMCA. The Heals Fund, managed by the Klumper family, will be used to support and promote youth sports and recreation across the county.
Andy Johnson, executive director of the Worthington Area YMCA and a member of the local Sports and Recreation Committee, said the funds will go to a good cause.
“The funds are going to the sports and rec committees in each of the area towns,” he said. “It’s nice to know there’s extra money coming in.”
Johnson said the local committee’s funds typically are generated from the annual Wild Turkey Shoot-Out, but money has dwindled in recent years.
Chad Cummings, organizer of the Deep Freeze Dip, said this will be the first of two years that proceeds from the dip will go to the Heals Fund. Donations will be accepted through Saturday’s dip, which begins at 3 p.m.
Cummings and his wife, Jami, have raised more than $1,000 just from friends at Cuero, Texas. He said their Texas friends think they are “absolutely nuts” to be jumping in a lake in the middle of January.
From the Klumper family, Wayne and Dea’s son, Dan, will jump. Other jumpers hail from throughout the area.
The water temperature on Saturday is expected to be about 34 degrees. The dipping hole will be approximately 20 to 30 yards from shore in 4½ to 5 feet of water. Volunteers from the Worthington Fire Department and EMTs will be on hand to ensure dippers are safe.
Opening ceremonies for Winterfest 2014 begin at 5 p.m. Friday at the Hickory Lodge, inside the Travelodge Hotel on North Humiston Avenue. The event includes the crowning of the Winterfest Snow Queen at 5:30 p.m. and the first-ever Winterfest Chili Cook-Off from 5 to 7 p.m. Eight entries for the chili cook-off were registered as of Wednesday, and people are welcome to sign up yet today by contacting the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, 372-2919.
Friday evening is also when dippers can turn in the money they raised, and walkers participating in the Winterfest Heart Walk can register and pick up their official Winterfest long-sleeved shirt. The Worthington Area YMCA continues to accept registrations for the walk, and people will be able to sign up Friday at the Hickory Lodge.
Johnson said participants in the two-mile Winterfest walk may either use the Y’s indoor walking track or follow the outdoor route that makes a loop from the YMCA via College Way, Thompson Avenue, Lexington and West Lake to Fox Farm Road and Crailsheim Drive, where they will reach the new walking trail to follow back to College Way and the YMCA.
Young families participating on the indoor track are asked to begin the walk at 9 a.m.
Also on Saturday, Jason Johnson is organizing the second annual Pond Hockey Tournament, which will take place on two rinks near Sunset Park, closer to the grade. The event is slated to begin at 10 a.m. Teams may register by contacting him at email@example.com or phone 329-0201 by noon Friday.
“Each game will be three, five-minute periods, and each team is guaranteed two games,” Johnson said. “It should be a fun time. All skill levels are encouraged to come out and have some fun.”
The Southwest Minnesota Fishing Club will host an ice fishing tournament on Lake Okabena on Saturday as well. Registration is from 7:30 to 9 a.m., with fishing from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Prizes will be awarded in both adult (16 and older) and youth (15 and younger) categories.
Cummings said the contest is derby-style, with any and all fish eligible to be documented. The fishing club has partnered with Recycled Fish on Ice for the catch-and-release event.
“The biggest single fish is going to win,” Cummings said. “Right now there’s a lot of little walleyes being caught on Lake Okabena.”
First prize in the adult category is $250 cash, followed by a Clam portable fish house for second and an ice auger for third place. In the youth division, the top three winners will each receive a new Clam portable fish house. Prizes will be awarded for the 10 biggest fish in each age division.
Following the fishing tournament awards, the raffle winner will be announced in the fishing club’s ATV giveaway. Tickets will be sold during the fishing tournament Saturday in Sunset Park.
Throughout the day on Saturday, the Frosty Riders Snowmobile Club will have a food stand in Sunset Park, serving burgers, hot dogs, coffee, hot chocolate and water.