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Okoboji Winter Games on tap this weekend

OKOBOJI, Iowa -- With more than a foot of snow landing Monday on the Iowa Great Lakes, organizers of the University of Okoboji Winter Games are ready to kick it up a notch this weekend, with a full slate of activities planned for both outdoor ent...

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OKOBOJI, Iowa - With more than a foot of snow landing Monday on the Iowa Great Lakes, organizers of the University of Okoboji Winter Games are ready to kick it up a notch this weekend, with a full slate of activities planned for both outdoor enthusiasts and those who prefer to be indoors.

Dozens of events are planned, including one new addition to Saturday’s slate - human bowling. Sponsored by Rosenboom Machine & Tool, the free event will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Preservation Plaza, the green space near the Arnolds Park Amusement Park.

“We will have two lanes and bowling pins set up,” explained Kara Matheson, events coordinator at the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. Rosenboom will provide the sleds and people will be able to take a running start and slide down the hill, aiming for the bowling pins below.

“It’s a free for all,” Matheson said, noting there will be no organized game because it’s a first-time event. “You can go as many times as your heart desires.”

While human bowling is the newest event, Matheson assures there are plenty of “really fun returning events” planned as well.

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The Winter Games begin Thursday with a locals “pre-game” party, food pantry benefit and musical entertainment. An expanded schedule starts Friday.

One of the most popular Friday events is the annual chili cook-off, planned from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Dickinson County Expo Building in Spirit Lake. This year’s theme is Disney Pixar.

Friday is also the kickoff for weekend-long events, including the Boats, Bikes, Snowmobiles and UTV’s on Ice Show at Parks Marina/Barefoot (Friday-Saturday); and Friday through Sunday Family Ice Fishing Retreat at Camp Okoboji, Milford; and $5 ice skate rentals at Okoboji Boat Works.

Saturday activities include broomball, snow softball, flag football, indoor volleyball, bean bag, cribbage, chess and ping pong tournaments, the Freeze your Fanny and Frozen Fanny fat tire bike races, human dogsled races and motorcycle studded ice oval races, the always popular Chocolate Classic and Polar Plunge, plus numerous other activities.

Saturday is capped off with a fireworks extravaganza and burning of the greens on Preservation Plaza at 6:30 p.m.

Throughout the weekend, people will be able to enjoy a variety of musical entertainment hosted by businesses in the Iowa Great Lakes area.

“We’ve got something for everyone,” Matheson said, adding that tens of thousands of people visit the Iowa Great Lakes during the Winter Games.

“People drive several hours to attend this event,” she said, adding that people come from more than 20 states to take in the activities.

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“There really is something for everyone - young or old, whether you enjoy the warm or cold,” Matheson said.

University of Okoboji Winter Games apparel will be available for purchase at the chamber office, located next to the Queen II in Arnolds Park, throughout the weekend.

For a complete schedule of events, visit uofowintergames.com.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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