MILFORD, Iowa | Students of the University of Okoboji are majoring in fun.
Okoboji has everything one would expect a university to have -- sports (University of Okoboji Winter Olympics, marathon and triathlon), dorms (hotels) and food service (restaurants) all in a beautiful setting.
But it's lacking one major thing: college classes.
"Well, who cares!" said University of Okoboji concept founder Herman Richter. "If you're alive and having a good time, you're a student at the University of Okoboji."
The University of Okoboji isn't an actual academic institution. Richter explained it's an expression of pride that was born nearly 40 years ago.
"Everybody's helped make it what it is," he said. "There are seven municipalities in the Iowa Lakes area. What it's become with everybody's help is almost an umbrella -- everybody works together whether it's fundraisers or trails or parks."
The University of Okoboji crest has been affixed to cups, bumper stickers, pennants, T-shirts and sweatshirts at The Three Sons, a well-known clothing business in Milford owned by brothers Herman and Emil Richter. The crest features people fishing, water-skiing, boating and playing tennis and golf.
"It's an amazing conversation-starter," Richter said of the University of Okoboji. "I don't care if you're in the Panama Canal, somebody's going to stop and say, 'Hi.'"
Twenty years ago, the University of Okoboji entrance exam made its debut, but students aren't sweating it. Richter said the 20-question quiz is printed for the Clay County Fair and kicks off the fall semester. The 2016 entrance exam features the following word puzzles:
7. 1234 DRACULA
9. XQQQ ME
Visit 3sons.com for the complete quiz and answers.
"It's a fun quiz. People look forward to it," Richter said. "These get put in search bulletins. We find that they're being used all over the place -- teachers pick up a stack of them for a class they're teaching."
Brian Richter, Emil's son and Herman's nephew, comes up with the questions, although submissions are encouraged.
Herman Richter said one of his favorite questions to appear on the entrance exam is : 1OSNE1 = Tennis Anyone.
"I saw it on a Nebraska license plate and I thought, 'Wow, that's really cool!' But before I could secure it for a vehicle for the state of Iowa someone else beat me to it," he said with a chuckle.
Richter is encouraging everyone to be sure to attend summer school at the University of Okoboji. The credits obtained, he said, transfer to all the region's institutions.
"It turns out that enrollment is up, tuition is down, none of our faculty want a raise and the NCAA just cleared our football team. We're in pretty good shape for the year," he said.
In reality, Richter said, the Iowa Lakes region is looking forward to its best year yet. He cited new recreational trails and updates to Arnolds Park's iconic rollercoaster, as well as Bridges Bay Resort.
"We're expecting probably the biggest summer the Lakes have ever had," he said.