Fun-packed events, mild weather draws big crowds to Okoboji Winter Games

Fun-packed events, mild weather draws big crowds to Okoboji Winter Games


OKOBOJI, Iowa | As he prepared to play broomball on West Lake Okoboji's Miller Bay Saturday morning, Noah DeYager of Hull, Iowa, said he wasn’t even sure -- or care -- who his hometown team, the Fightin’ Halibuts, was facing.

“It doesn’t matter. We’ve been doing this for 10 years, just for fun.,” DeYager said.

Surprisingly enough, the opposing team was a cross-town rival Winklebox.

DeYager was among the contestants for the 36th annual Okoboji Winter Games. As temperatures soared into the 40s before noon, the mild weather brought out a throng of revelers and spectators to the Iowa Great Lakes region.

And for the record, the final score in the broomball contest was Winkelbox 2, Fightin' Halibuts 1.

The four-day event concludes Sunday.

On the ice, but out of any competition, Frank Collins, drove from Kingsley  Saturday to pull his grandchildren around East Lake Okoboji on a sled with his ATV. He later took off, almost on his own, with only his golden retriever Paisley along to enjoy the ride.

Joe Leyden came with son Grant, 9, to participate in the North Iowa Off Road Group’s races that included motor bikes, several classes of four-wheel vehicles and motorcycles.

If not the youngest, 6-year-old Emmett Schmidt, of St. Joseph, Missouri, was at least one of the youngest to compete with his own four-wheeler Saturday. Schmidt’s father Ryan explained this is is son’s second year of competition. “It’s a good winter sport,” he said.

When it comes to large-scale four-wheel racing the competition isn’t just among the drivers. Angie Pratt, Samantha Reeves, and Bobi Ziegler, all of Fort Dodge, Iowa, enjoy friendly competition off the track. In their husbands’ races last weekend, Corey Pratt was first, followed by Tanner Reeves, and Jamie Ziegler.

Asked who was going to win Saturday, Pratt said the second and third place order might change. “But Corey will be number one.”

But in the first heat Jamie Ziegler was first, following by Pratt and Reeves. The second race -- the one that counts for the record books had Pratt in first place, with Ziegler and Reeves in second and third.

“Angie was right -- unfortunately,” Bobi Ziegler admitted when the races were over.


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