SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa | Jantina Carney went from business to business in the Iowa Great Lakes on Wednesday morning, trudging through and shaking off 10-12 inches of snow in the process.

The faces she encountered? Smiles, all.

"We're just giddy up here with this snow," said Carney. "They're calling it a 'Million Dollar Storm.'"

That phrase often accompanies a much-needed rain that helps make a corn crop. Without the precipitation, corn is destined to fail. A timely rain ensures farmers will have something to deliver at harvest.

Mother Nature's delivery of snow on the Iowa Great Lakes late Tuesday and early Wednesday may attract hundreds, if not thousands, of snowmobile enthusiasts to Dickinson County this weekend for the 37th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games, which run Thursday through Sunday.

"Snowmobilers are coming and they'll stay in our motels, they'll eat in our restaurants and they'll buy groceries while they're here," said Carney, a member of the Dickinson County SnowHawks Snowmobile Club. The club, which, before this snow, hadn't made plans for this weekend's festivities, called an impromptu meeting for the noon hour on Wednesday. The challenge: Put the club's trail groomer in gear and get something in place for the crush of snowmobile operates that is now expected.

"Our plan is to host a fun run on Saturday," she said. "We'll register riders at Okoboji Power Sports and have stops along our trails in (the towns of) Terril, Superior, Milford and Lake Park."

Additionally, the Dickinson County SnowHawks will host a youth demo ride on Saturday for children ages 6-12. This free event allows young children to test-drive a snowmobile around a track. This event, which runs from 10 a.m. to noon, takes place at Okoboji Power Sports.

Carney was participating in a snowmobile outing with her family last weekend in Park Rapids, Minnesota, when she learned of a possible snow event in Northwest Iowa this week. As forecasters shared changing weather models, her hopes grew for a major snow storm.

"We haven't had great snow for snowmobiling at Winter Games since 2011," she said. "That year, we got a huge snow storm at Christmas and we had thousands here on their snowmobiles for that Winter Games."

"We're calling it a 'Winter Games Miracle,'" added Debbie Parks, of Parks Marina in Okoboji, host of a Damon Dotson concert and the Fourth Annual Battle of the Bartenders charity event this evening that helps start the festivities. "We've had so many years where the ice is questionable and there's no snow and we get all kinds of calls asking about the weather. This year, Mother Nature is helping make Winter Games great again!"

Parks said a team of sled-dogs will be part of the Winter Games celebration this weekend, doing a demonstration of how they pull a sleigh across the snow. And, a horse-drawn sleigh ride will also greet fun-seekers awash in 10 inches of new snow.

"This is a win/win for everyone," Parks concluded. "The businesses and charities in the Iowa Great Lakes will prosper. This is a great boost for what can be a long winter."



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