Winter Games 2024 has come and gone..

THANK YOU!

On behalf of the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, we would like to thank so many for making our 44th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games another success for our business community. Although the games may have felt a little different from those of the recent past, lifelong memories were made for so many individuals from near and far. Events of this scale are not possible without an army of volunteers and the continual support from our entire community. It truly takes a village to make something like this happen and we would like to take a second to thank some key leaders for this year’s event. 

Thank you to our sponsors for making so much of this possible. Our Presenting Sponsor GrapeTree Medical Staffing. A huge shout out to our Platinum Level Sponsors EV Smart of Okoboji and West O Beer. Gold level sponsors include Hy-Vee, City of Arnolds Park, Pure Fishing, Rosenboom, Bug Masters of Okoboji, Fireball, and Dr. McGillicuddy’s; and our Silver sponsors include Alliant Energy, Woodruff Construction, and Invenergy. 

Thank you to our individual event sponsors Okoboji Motor Company for the Polar Plunge and Food Truck Festival, Bank Midwest for the Burning of the Greens & Fireworks Extravaganza, The Gardens for the Bean Bag Toss Tournament, The Ritz for Snowball Softball, Ingvall Real Estate Team for the Chocolate Classic, Hinn Real Estate for the Chili Cook-off, Kozy Heat for the 5K Fun Run, West O Beer for the Stump Tournament, MHR Insurance for the Broomball Tournament, and Parks Marina for Flag Football. We would also like to thank Black Hills Energy for sponsoring the Winter Games schedules, Regional Transit Authority for providing transportation for our cheerleaders and media, ShoreStation for providing a trailer stage for Burning of the Greens and Diamond Concrete for providing the storage containers for the collection of trees. A massive thank you to Steve Boote and Eagle Construction for the creation and continuation of the Winter Games Boji Kite Festival bringing kite fliers and attendees from all around the world. 

We appreciate the leadership of this year’s Chair Rachel Fandel, co-chair Andy Lux, our Winter Games Intern Jenny Dykema, and our 8 wonderful Winter Games Cheerleaders. A huge thank you to Rocky Thompson Photography for providing us with amazing footage of the games all weekend long. Thank you to our hundreds of volunteers, event chairs, Arnolds Park Amusement Park’s hard-working staff, KUOO, the Dickinson County News, the Lakes News Shopper, MC22, and all other news outlets for their non-stop coverage. Thank you to County and City governments for working with us, the courageous Law enforcement of the Lakes Region, the Iowa DNR, Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire & Rescue for keeping us safe, and all of the Chamber businesses that hosted events that lead to a memorable weekend for our tens of thousands of visitors. Each and every business and their hardworking staff deserves a round of applause for welcoming individuals from near and far and making this weekend happen each and every year. It takes a very special community to unite & support an event that brings joy to our locals and visitors alike with an economic boost for our Chamber Members. Thank you to each and every one of you. 

 

Blain Andera — CEO/President

Kiley Zankowski — Director of Marketing and Events

Morgan Strauss – Marketing and Events Coordinator 

Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce



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Winter Games 44 Results

Chili Cook-Off sponsored by Hinn Real Estate

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Best Overall

Goliath Sporting Goods

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Best Non-Profit

Knights of Columbus

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Best Decorated Booth

Grace Lutheran Church

Chocolate Classic sponsored by Ingvall Real Estate Team

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1st: Painted Ladies

2nd: Mary Abbott

3rd: Boji Spudz

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Axe Throwing – 10 for $10 Tournament at The Throwing Post

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Men: Richie Emrich

Women: Nikki Schupbach

Bean Bag Toss Tournament sponsored by The Gardens

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1st: Team Captain

2nd: Bag Twins

3rd: Laven & Laven

4th: Beer Here

Broomball sponsored by MHR Insurance

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1st: New Ulm Broomballers

2nd: West O Beer/Kraninger Construction

3rd: ESSOBEES

Cribbage Classic

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1st Place - Ashley Schechinger

2nd Place - Heath Gravert

3rd Place - Mark Leiss

4th Place - Kristin Lentz

Flag Football sponsored by Parks Marina

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1st: The Revolution

2nd: Dirty Sanchez

3rd: Ash Creek Assassins

Stump Tournament sponsored by West O Beer

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1st: Dan Houg

2nd: Marcy Uglum

3rd: Nick Gilson

Polar Plunge sponsored by Okoboji Motor Company

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The beautiful weather encouraged nearly 300 plungers to jump into the icy waters of West Lake Okoboji raising funds that benefit the Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire & Rescue.

Snow Softball sponsored by The Ritz

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1st: Martins

2nd: JB Excavating

3rd: Dixon Snyder

Meet your 2024 Winter Games Cheerleaders!

Introducing your 2024 Winter Games Cheerleaders!

After collecting nominations for all of December and holding a community-wide voting on January 3rd & 4th, the Winter Games Committee has officially tallied up the votes! We now present to you the 2024 University of Okoboji Winter Games Cheerleaders!

1

Rob Catlin

“Rob is a long-time resident of the Okoboji area. He has kids in the Spirit Lake District and has always been very involved with the community. Rob is well-known for being a local DJ at the bars as well as the occasional wedding and school event. He strives to make the Lakes area a better place by listening to the community on views that are soon-to-be talked about at council meetings. He truly loves the Lakes!”

2

Kolette Delperdang

“Kolette is always willing to go above and beyond for people in her community. She currently works as a relator at Exit realty. She always has a smile on her face and is happy. She also volunteers in her free time at make a wish, working at the Grove in the fall and delivering meals with meals on wheels.”

3

Charlie Leissler

“Charlie has been a regular name in the Okoboji's for over a decade and a great friend to many. Charlie serves the Iowa Great Lakes as a local Real Estate Agent for Remax of Okoboji. Charlie's character embodies everything that it means to be a Winter Games Cheerleader and would be a great addition to the Winter Games Family. He has such a fun, outgoing personality, and always does his best to make people smile. From bartending and managing The Gardens, to his success as a realtor with Remax, Charlie is everything Okoboji and the surrounding Dickinson county communities represent!”

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Katie Luinstra

“Katie does nothing but cheer for her students (and all the students) at OES. She has taught more than one of my children, and while my two kids are VERY different, she has managed to connect with them each so perfectly--she knows what makes her students tick. She goes above and beyond to encourage her students to the point where they no longer question their confidence--it's just there. Her passion for their success is awe-inspiring and is visible in absolutely everything she does. Katie consistently makes even the most boring spelling words fun for her first graders (I'm looking at you "down"), and there's always some fun activity the kids come home talking about. She makes school fun and puts big smiles on the faces of everyone she sees there. She is the epitome of positivity and kindness.”

5

Rob Rodriguez

“Rob owns Boji Surf in Arnolds Park. He is the ultimate cheerleader and lights up a room with his laugh and friendly nature. Whether you meet Rob at his store or on the water, he always greets you with a big welcoming smile. In the summer, you can find Rob working with all ages of people on and off the water. He spends his spare time teaching people how to surf, giving them pointers to increase their surfing abilities, and being a great host to visitors of Okoboji. Rob is a natural coach and cheerleader. He rallies people to cheer others on and gets everyone to celebrate. He loves making a difference and being in on the action.”

6

Brandon Vodraska

“I believe Brandon meets the requirements because he is always full of energy and positivity! There’s never a moment you have to second guess him, he will always do what he can to lighten the mood and put a smile on your face! He is very willing to help others, has a contagious smile, and loves his community. Brandon will give others the shirt off his back even if it was to be his last. He loves helping kids and adults no matter the situation and doesn't ask for anything in return. He has a heart of gold!”
7

Heath Williams

“Heath is an asset at Oak Hill Marina and within our community. He always has a smile on his face and his work ethic is unmatched. He is willing to push himself out of his comfort zone to increase his skill set. Heath is a great leader. He instills pride, ambition and the importance of having a strong work ethic into his young adult employees. Heath has spent many years working in Okoboji and building connections. To know Heath, is to love him. He is always willing to help his community members out whether that be helping with boats, serving as a handyman, assisting with stereo/remote start needs etc. Heath is a jack of all trades. I think he would make a great cheerleader!”

8

Vicki Willison

“Vicki has been an active community member and supporter for 60 plus years. She has given up many hours of her time this last year in helping the Humane Society in capturing and giving medical needs to many abandoned felines left behind and helping find them a safe home. You can often see her out and about with a smile for everyone. Vicki cares very much about the Lakes Region! She is a fun loving, go-go girl who loves Okoboji! Never a dull moment with this gal! Vicki is such a cheerleader of the Lakes area. She has passion, compassion and high high energy! She would be a fantastic representative of Winter Games.”

Meet your WG44 Chairs!

WG CHAIRS 2024

Get to Know your Chair & Co-Chair!

The Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the Chair & Co-Chair of the 44th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games scheduled for January 25-28, 2024.

The Chair of the 43rd Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games this year is Rachel Fandel. Rachel works at Fillenwarth Beach Resort in Arnolds Park. She is a 2008 graduate from Estherville Lincoln Central and a graduate from the University of Iowa. Rachel, her husband Craig and their two children reside in Spirit Lake.

When it came time to choose an area to settle in, the lakes area was a simple choice. Her love of the lake, for the community and her roots in the area help drive her to give back whenever possible.

Fandel is a member of the Okoboji Tourism Committee and a past IGLACC Board member. She enjoys helping area businesses thrive and helping visitors from all over the world learn about what makes Okoboji special. She is also the President of the Spirit Lake Elementary PIE and truly enjoys volunteering her time to benefit the kids in the area.

When Rachel isn't busy working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, while taking full advantage of all that being an Iowa Great Lakes Area resident has to offer.

Over the years, Rachel has been involved in Winter Games as a spectator, participant, volunteer and Co-Chair. She is thrilled to yet again represent the community, the IGLACC and the University of Okoboji at this year's Winter Games!

Co-Chair this year is Andy Lux. Andy has lived in the Lakes Area since 2003 and has been employed at Rosenboom for the past 18 years where he currently serves as the Director of Purchasing. Andy and his wife currently reside in Spirit Lake and raised their two daughters in the Lakes Area where they both graduated from Spirit Lake Community School District.

Lux was drawn to the Lakes Area for its unique opportunity raise his family in a community that offers an ideal work life balance. He enjoys the incredible small-town community that often has a bigger town feel. Andy often enjoys the many avenues for professional growth as well as getting involved with all the great things that the area has to offer.

Andy is the current the acting Board President of the IGLACC and has previously served as the Board President of the Bedell Family YMCA as well as Staff Parish Relations Committee Chair t the Spirit Lake United Methodist Church.

In his free time, Andy enjoys boating, golfing, biking the many trails, taking in live music, and dining at the many fine food and entertainment venues that this area has to offer.

Andy was elected as a Winter Games Cheerleader during the 40th Annual Winter Games. He enjoys being involved in the constant growth and enhancement of the event and looks forward to helping ensure that this year’s Winter Games continues to thrive while grasping on to the important traditions of the past.

Rachel and Andy are looking forward to the preparation ahead for our awesome winter tradition, and they are ready to make this year the best yet!

To get involved in the University of Okoboji Winter Games, please contact the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber at 712-332-2107.

Winter Games 43 Results!

Chili Cook-Off sponsored by Ruthven Meat Locker

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Best Overall - Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis

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Best Decorated Booth - The Catlins

Chocolate Classic sponsored by Ingvall Real Estate Team

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1st: Central Bank - Relay for Life

2nd: Mary Abbott

3rd: Painted Ladies

Axe Throwing – 10 for $10 Tournament at The Throwing Post

 Men: Jason Weaver

Women: Emily Boettcher

Bean Bag Toss Tournament sponsored by The Gardens

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1st: Bag Twins

2nd: Laven

3rd: Jensen's

4th: Pit Boss 4 Baggers

Consolation Winner: Dammit Dave

Consolation Runner-up: Shrivalous Sacs

Broomball sponsored by MHR Insurance

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1st: New Ulm Broomballers

2nd: ESSOBEES

3rd: West O Beer/Kraninger Construction

Cribbage Classic

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1st Place - John Hough

2nd Place - Mallory Mulligan

3rd Place - John Berry

4th Place - Rich Jones

Flag Football sponsored by Parks Marina

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1st: 4th and Long

2nd: The Revolution

3rd: Ash Creek Assassins

Stump Tournament sponsored by West O Beer

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Results Coming Soon!

Polar Plunge sponsored by Okoboji Motor Company

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Even with the frigid temperatures, over 135 plungers jumped into the icy waters of West Lake Okoboji raising funds that benefit the Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire & Rescue.

Snow Softball sponsored by The Ritz

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1st: Martins

2nd: Boji Nites

3rd: Schoonys

What a weekend!

THANK YOU!

On behalf of the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce we would like to thank so many for making our 43rd Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games another success for our business community.

Thank you to our sponsors for making so much of this possible. Our Presenting Sponsor GrapeTree Medical Staffing. A huge shout out to our Platinum Level Sponsors EV Smart of Okoboji and West O Beer. Gold level sponsors include Hy-Vee, Pure Fishing, Rosenboom, Fireball, and Dr. McGillicuddy’s; and our Silver sponsors include Alliant Energy. Thank you to our individual event sponsors Okoboji Motor Company for the Polar Plunge, Bank Midwest for the Burning of the Greens & Fireworks Extravaganza, The Gardens for the Bean Bag Toss Tournament, The Ritz for Snowball Softball, Ingvall Real Estate Team for the Chocolate Classic, Ruthven Meat Locker for the Chili Cook-off, Kozy Heat for the 5K Fun Run, West O Beer for the Stump Tournament, MHR Insurance for the Broomball Tournament, and Parks Marina for Flag Football. We would also like to thank Black Hills Energy for sponsoring the Winter Games schedules, Regional Transit Authority for providing transportation for our cheerleaders and media, and Diamond Concrete for providing the storage containers for the collection of trees. 

We appreciate the leadership of this year’s Chair Michael Meyers, co-chair Rachel Fandel, our Winter Games Intern Jenny Dykema, and our 8 wonderful Winter Games Cheerleaders. A huge thank you to Dave Petrick and Rocky Thompson Photography for providing us with amazing footage of the games all weekend long. Thank you to our hundreds of volunteers, event chairs, Arnolds Park Amusement Park’s hard-working staff, KUOO, the Dickinson County News, the Lakes News Shopper, MC22, and all other news outlets for their non-stop coverage. Thank you to County and City governments for working with us, the courageous Law enforcement of the Lakes Region, the Iowa DNR, Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire & Rescue for keeping us safe, and all of the Chamber businesses that hosted events that lead to a memorable weekend for our tens of thousands of visitors. It takes a very special community to unite & support an event that brings joy to our locals and visitors alike with an economic boost for our Chamber Members. Thank you to each and every one of you.

Blain Andera — CEO/President

Kiley Zankowski — Director of Marketing and Events

Morgan Strauss – Marketing and Events Coordinator 

Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce

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Meet your 2023 Winter Games Cheerleaders!

Introducing your 2023 Winter Games Cheerleaders!

After collecting nominations for all of December and holding a community-wide voting on January 4th & 5th, the Winter Games Committee has officially tallied up the votes! We now present to you the 2023 University of Okoboji Winter Games Cheerleaders!

23

Scott Nolte

"Scott is the Sports director for KUOO, he is at all area athletic events supporting the kids, he's very passionate about his job and no matter how tired he is he always has a smile on his face and is very enthusiastic to talk about and showcase our area athletes. Scott also loves supporting other events around the area from broadcasting in the cruiser for 4th of July to Winter Games, he's always up to the job and never complains about weather or anything else that may be challenging. He loves supporting the arts as well, doing a weekly interview with OST and going to as many of the shows as he has time for. Scott goes above and beyond for the community as well, spreading the word over the air waves about events and fundraisers, for meaningful causes, encouraging everyone to get involved! Scott is incredibly humble and goes out of his way to help anyone he can. Scott is a strong, positive role model!"

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Sheree Sanderson

"Sheree is never without a smile, helping hand, or a positive word to share. She's a community business owner and highly active in the real estate industry. Sheree would be a fantastic fit for the U of O Winter Games Cheerleading squad with her high energy, love for the Lakes, and by being a local native. To know her is to love and be loved by her!"

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Laurie & Brad Simington

"Laurie and Brad are just one of those couples that give of their time and their talents for the betterment of the community! They are almost always in attendance at any community fundraiser or function. They love the Iowa Great Lakes and the people that make up this special place."

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Cathy Thee

"Cathy Thee is one of those people that everyone knows and loves. She can walk into a room and know almost everyone. When she opened her Med spa Be Radiant in 2015, her goal was to make people feel confident about themselves. She has definitely been successful at that. She plays a huge part in the community by owning a local business and supporting other businesses in the area. Cathy Thee is the definition of a cheerleader!"

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Brad & Susan Travis

"These two are great leaders in our community. Susan has developed the Lake Life magazine, while also making fundraising for schools/organizations easier with her likeitwearitrockit.com website. Brad is a dedicated teacher at Spirit Lake who won the 2A Track Meet this spring and was selected as the 2A Overall Track and Field Coach of the Year."

32

Alyssa Umscheid

"Alyssa is the most kind, compassionate, loving cheerleader you will ever meet! She has a heart of gold both at work and home. Alyssa is a integration special education teacher at Okoboji Middle School. She also has a self proclaimed "funny farm" where she loves all her fur babies and raises antibiotic free, nurtured and non-confinded pork. She is forever putting herself last and will jump through fire for her family, friends and students. "

Cheerleader Nominations Open

The University of Okoboji Winter Games committee is seeking nominations for the 2023 University of Okoboji Cheerleaders. 

In the true spirit of community fun and recognition, the University of Okoboji Winter Games Committee gives the public the opportunity to nominate individuals to serve as the Winter Games cheerleaders each year. The eight chosen cheerleaders will cheer, cheer, cheer for O-K-O-B-O-J-I at the various events throughout the 43rd Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games on January 26-29, 2023.

Individuals must be nominated in order to be considered as a potential cheerleader. Nominees must be a Dickinson County resident or employed in Dickinson County and at least 18 years of age. Nominations will be open the entire month of December, and a public voting will be held January 4th and 5th. 

The nominee should exhibit: a ready smile, generous heart, and good nature, an enthusiasm for all that our U of O campus has to offer, and a sincere desire to give their time and talent to enhance the quality of life in the Iowa Great Lakes Area. The nomination form is now open online at uofowintergames.com under the Cheerleader Tab of the website. A full list of past nominees and details on cheerleader requirements can be found online.

For more information on this celebration, please visit www.uofowintergames.com or call the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce at 712-332-2107.

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2023 Winter Games apparel is NOW AVAILABLE!

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The official University of Okoboji Winter Games apparel is in and ready for you!

Purchase your gear today in store at the IGLA Chamber office (565 S Hwy 71, Ste 4 - Arnolds Park, IA 51331) or under the Shop tab! There are more options than ever before! Including: beanies, crewneck sweatshirts, long sleeve t-shirts, short sleeve t-shirts, koozies, ornaments, and more!

Save the date and get your gear!

WG43 Registration is NOW OPEN!

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It's the beginning of November and you know what that means... registration for certain Winter Games events are NOW OPEN! Don't miss out on the 5k Fun Run, Bean Bag Toss, Broomball, Softball, Keg Toss, Stump Tournament, Human Foosball and SO much more this year!

For the past 42 years, thousands of people have gathered to celebrate winter in Northwest Iowa. Join us January 26-29, 2022 for the 43rd Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games presented by GrapeTree Medical Staffing! Event registration is officially open with some new and many classic events. Challenge yourself individually or gather your friends and family for a team event. Registration is open online at uofowintergames.com. Sign up soon as spots fill up quickly!

From classic Winter Games events such as Broomball, Chili Cook-Off, Snow Softball, 5K Fun Run, Axe Throwing Tournament, Human Dog Sled Races and much more, you are sure to stay entertained all weekend long! Check out the full schedule of events on our website and start planning your festivities for this annual frozen tradition!

For more information and additional updates, visit uofowintergames.com or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/UofOWinterGames.

*Not all events are open for registration, but will continuously open up in the coming weeks.