Winter Games Cheerleaders 2020: THE VOTES ARE IN!

After collecting nominations for all of December and holding a community-wide voting on January 2nd, the Winter Games Committee has officially tallied up the votes! We now present to you the 2019 University of Okoboji Winter Games Cheerleaders!

Andrew Fisher

Andrew has worked for the Bedell Family YMCA and Camp Foster for over 12 years. During his time there he has created new outreach programs that serve a population that might not otherwise have use of the facility. He is a Board Member of the Iowa Great Lakes Rotary, a member of the Priority One Community Coalition, Healthy Hometown Coalition, Co-Chair of the North Area Iowa Special Olympics, former Kinship Mentor, former volunteer youth sports coach and is a volunteer for countless sporting events for area high schools. Andrew works on a daily basis to advocate for the area and its citizens. He is currently leading a YMCA Visionary Committee to ensure the YMCA is around for current and future generations.

Deb Heidebrink

Deb spends an enormous amount of time beyond her “paid” job at Grace Lutheran Church. She delivers Meals on Wheels, provides encouragement to the Forrest Ridge students, encourages our youth in volunteerism. One sees Deb at a variety of Spirit Lake High School events. She volunteers during the basketball season doing the books as well as volleyball season. She cheers on the other sports teams by attending. Deb also is at the elementary during lunch time weekly making connections with kids. Deb is a well-known citizen of the Spirit Lake area giving her time, resources, and love to promote the Okoboji area.

Jodi Lange

Jodi is one of a kind. She is always willing to help anyone with anything. She is involved not only with the Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce, serving as Secretary of the Board of Directors and is also a Past-Chair of the board. She is also very active in her church. In addition to these she raises money and walks for March of Dimes, which is very near and dear to her heart.

Andy Lux

Andy is already a strong cheerleader/supporter of the Lakes region. Andy is currently serving as Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and is active in chamber events. He was a long-time board member of the YMCA and served as Board President. Andy has served on the Board of Trustees of his church and is the first to volunteer for anything.

Paul Plumb

Take a look around at most any event here at the Lakes and you’re sure to see Paul Plumb! He is an energetic supporter of all things “OKOBOJI”! He is generous with his time, serving on Boards, such as the Chamber. He has an ever-ready smile and cheerful attitude, welcoming all to the Park! If you’ve had the opportunity to work with him on an event, you know how committed he is to make sure your “OKOBOJI” experience is a true memory maker!! It’s people like Paul that really enhance the quality of life in the Iowa Great Lakes! He’s been cheering and supporting the area for years.

John M. Sandy

John M. Sandy believes in our community and loves to support this community. He is a Spirit Lake High School graduate and he certainly loves to support the Spirit Lake Schools. John has a phenomenally loud voice and he can inspire anyone to succeed. He inspires his family and friends with his passion for this town and for life. He allows both Spirit Lake and Okoboji High School students to job shadow him to allow the students to determine if becoming a lawyer is something that they are truly interested in. John M. is a dedicated father and family man. He is the right cheerleader for the Winter Games as his personality is contagious and so is his laughter.

Jeff & Megan Vierkant

Megan is the most enthusiastic everyday cheerleader for O. She supports the concerts, events, and all the area has to offer. As a Special Olympics athlete, she represents the Lakes area through Hope Haven in bowling, basketball, track and field, and cycling. Megan has competed in the Miss Amazing pageant for 6 years and represented the State of Iowa as Miss Amazing Teen in 2017 and at Nationals in Chicago August 2017. Megan’s enthusiasm and smile are contagious – a genuine cheerleader.

Jeff is Megan’s number one fan, her transportation, and her dad. Jeff is the CEO of Historic Arnolds Park, INC. – what’s more “Okoboji” than Arnolds Park Amusement Park? Jeff has served on the YMCA board and continues to be a cheerleader for his three daughters in all their endeavors. His love for the area is evident in his work to improve the Park and his drive to bring people and business into the area.

Winter Games Cheerleader Nominations Sought


In the true spirit of community fun and recognition, the University of Okoboji Winter Games Committee is giving the public the opportunity to nominate a man or woman to serve as a 2020 University of Okoboji Winter Games cheerleader.  Nominees must be 18 years of age or older and a resident of Dickinson County.

Each nominee should exhibit:

  • a ready smile, generous heart and good nature
  • an enthusiasm for all that our University of Okoboji 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

Eight selected cheerleaders will cheer, cheer, cheer for O-K-O-B-O-J-I during the 40th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games presented by GrapeTree Medical Staffing on January 23-26, 2020. Voting for the cheerleaders will be from 9 AM – 6 PM on Thursday, January 2nd in the office of the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce at 565 S Hwy 71 – Suite 4 in Arnolds Park. No phone, email or online votes will be accepted.

Nomination forms are available at under the “Cheerleader” tab or at the Chamber office in Arnolds Park. The deadline for nomination forms is at 5 PM on December 31st, 2019. For more information contact the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce at 712-332-2107.

Winter Games 40 Registration Open!

Great news for all our Winter Games fanatics, REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

Winter Games 40 is just over two months away, and spots fill up quickly! Visit to get signed up for all your favorite events.

We know things get busy during the holiday season, so we want to help make your lives a little easier. Online registration is available for your complete convenience, and it will help ensure that your spot is immediately reserved for your desired event from Broomball to the Bean Bag Toss Tournament.

If you are interested in getting involved with Winter Games and hosting a new event, visit to fill out the event form. The deadline is January 10th. Remember to take a peek at our selection of apparel and merchandise while you are here as well!

For more information on the 40th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games, contact Kiley at 712-332-2107 or We can’t wait for another great year of Winter Games!

OFFICIAL University of Okoboji Winter Games Beer!

We’ve been brewing up this secret for far too long..

We are so excited to introduce to you the Official University of Okoboji Winter Games beer! West O Beer has created CōZY, a delicious Lager with Blackberry, for you to enjoy leading up to and during the games. You can find CōZY both on tap and in 6-pack cans starting Friday, Oct. 25 in the West O tasting room in Okoboji. Look for it throughout their distribution area in the weeks to follow!




Winter Games 40 Logo Chosen

While spring weather is upon us, and winter is far from our minds, the planning for the University of Okoboji Winter Games has already begun. This year marks the 40thAnnual Celebration for this fun winter tradition scheduled for January 23-26, 2020.


Over the last month, the U of O Winter Games Committee asked individuals to submit their designs to be used on clothing, print advertising, social media, web promotions, and more! Over 60 wonderful and creative designs were submitted, and the winning design has officially been chosen. Tara Lehner of PowerSource in Spirit Lake’s design has been chosen as this year’s winner.


Originally from LeMars, Tara came to the lakes area as a graphic designer 6 years ago after graduating from BVU. Tara is currently the Senior Graphic Designer at PowerSource and has been with the company for almost 2 years. She enjoys coaching youth sports, photography, showing cattle, and spending time with her family and fiancé, Tyler.


To celebrate this anniversary year, commemorative summer t-shirts showcasing this year’s logo will be available for purchase. For more information and to order online please visit



Winter Games 40 Chair & Co-Chair Announced

The Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the Chair & Co-Chair of the 40thAnnual University of Okoboji Winter Games scheduled for January 23-26, 2020.


The Chair of the 40th Annual Winter Games is Brent Harris. Brent is an account executive for MHR Insurance in Milford. He is also the co-owner of Outrigger Restaurant & Lounge in Okoboji along with his wife, Jessica Harris. Brent and Jess are currently residents of Arnolds Park, but Brent was born and raised in Spirit Lake. Brent is very active in our community. He is a board member and past president of Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis. He is a board member and Iowa Navy Commodore for the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. He also dedicates much of his time to raising funds for the National MS Society in various ways.


When Brent isn’t busy working or volunteering, he loves boating, golfing, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying all the amenities the Iowa Great Lakes area has to offer! Over the years, Brent has been active in Winter Games in every capacity. He has been a spectator, participant, volunteer, elected as a cheerleader in 2015, co-chair for the 39thUniversity of Okoboji Winter Games and is now looking forward to being Chair. He is excited to represent this great community, the IGL Chamber, and the University of Okoboji in the upcoming 40th edition of this amazing event!


Co-Chair this year is John Hight. John is a civil engineer for Beck Engineering, Inc. in Spirit Lake. John, his wife Jaclyn, and two sons reside in Spirit Lake. John is a 2005 graduate of Spirit Lake High school, and is always looking for ways to give back to the community that he grew up in.


He is a board member and past president of Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis. John has spent time volunteer coaching youth football and wrestling, and often speaks to middle school and high school students about the importance of STEM professions. When John isn’t busy working or volunteering, he loves spending time with family and socializing with friends while enjoying everything the Iowa Great Lakes has to offer.


Over the years, John has been active in Winter Games in various ways. He has been a spectator, participant, volunteer, was elected as a cheerleader in 2018, and is now looking forward to being co-chair. He is excited to represent this great community, the IGL Chamber, and the University of Okoboji in the upcoming 40th edition of this amazing event!


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


Bean Bag Tournament Check Presentation

Winter Games Bean Bag Tournament Check Presented


Another fantastic cause benefitting from the U of O Winter Games! Parks Marina Jeff Thee, IGLACC Kiley Zankowski & Cari Jack, & Bean Bag Co-Chairs Joe & Ann Meyer presented the Okoboji Friends of the Arts (vocal teacher Erin Chappas, instrumental teacher Ryan Middleton, & Okoboji Friends of the Arts President Deb Clark) with a check for $1,502.00 raised during the 39th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games Bean Bag Tournament held on Saturday, January 26, 2019 on West Lake Okoboji in front of the Central Emporium.


Sixty-four 2-person teams competed in this fun-filled tourney raising funds for the amazing Okoboji Fine Arts Programs. Thank you to Joe and Ann Meyer, Parks Marina, and the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce for making this tournament a reality.


The 40thAnnual University of Okoboji Winter Games are scheduled for January 23-26, 2020 and be sure to visit www.uofowintergames.comfor updates and information on how you can get involved in the frigid family fun.

The Results Are In!

2019 U of O Winter Games Results


Chili Cook-off sponsored by Oak Hill Marina:

Best Business/Overall Winner: Ruthven Meat Locker

Best Non-profit: Hope Haven

Best Booth: Mustang Entertainment


Chocolate Classic sponsored by Ingvall Real Estate Team:

1st: Mary Abbott

2nd: Abby Troung

3rd: Creative Cakes by Mindy Troung


Bean Bag Toss Tournament sponsored by The Gardens:

1st: Weiner Guns

2nd: Bag Twins

3rd: Team Bill Laven

4th: Double Bag It

Consolation Winner: Cool Beaners

Consolation Runner-up: T Baggers


Broomball sponsored by Shaw’s:

1st: New Ulm

2nd: West O/Kraninger Construction



Flag Football sponsored by Parks Marina:

1st: Dry Dock Dragons

2nd: Harambe

3rd: The Revolution


Snow Softball sponsored by The Ritz: (Results coming soon)

1st: Frozen Sluggers




5K Road Race sponsored by Lakes Regional Healthcare: (Results Coming Soon)

Overall Men’s – Cole Satterwhite, 18:51

Overall Women’s – Emily Alter, 23:00


10K Road Race sponsored by Lakes Regional Healthcare: (Results Coming Soon)

Overall Men’s – Jason Thomas, 35:29

Overall Women’s – Kim Reins, 50:10


Cribbage Classic:

1st: Sherri Webster

2nd: Larry Cox


Polar Plunge sponsored by Okoboji Harley-Davidson:

105 plungers dove into the icy waters of West Lake raising funds that benefit the Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire & Rescue.


Battle of the Bartenders:

Nearly $7,000 was raised in one hour. This money will be donated to the top three places and their charity of choice. In third place, The Ritz. $1,372 will be donated to their charity, The Humane Society of Northwest Iowa. Second place was The Shed. Their charity of choice was The Ronald McDonald House, and they will receive $2,058. The winner this year was Outback Lounge, and they chose for their winning proceeds of $3,430 to go to the Lane Frederick Stop Bullying Campaign – STAND UP – SPEAK UP!

Thank You!

On behalf of the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Okoboji Tourism, we would like to thank so many for making our 39thAnnual 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. Gold level sponsors include Pure Fishing, Re*Be Skin and Vein Clinc, and Dr. McGillicuddy’s; and our Silver sponsors include Kozy Heat and Hy-Vee of Spirit Lake. Thank you to our individual event sponsors Okoboji Harley-Davidson for the Polar Plunge, The Gardensfor the Bean Bag Toss Tournament, The Ritz for Snowball Softball, Mary Lynn Ingvall and Ingvall Real Estate Team for the Chocolate Classic, Oak Hill Marina for the Chili Cook-off, Lakes Regional Healthcare for the 5K/10K race, Shaw’s of Okoboji for the Broomball Tournament, and Parks Marina for Flag Football. We would also like to thank Black Hills Energy for sponsoring the Winter Games Information Center all weekend long.


We appreciate the leadership of this year’s Chair Adelee Dixon, Co-chair Brent Harris, and our 9 wonderful Winter Games Cheerleaders.Thank you to our hundreds of volunteers, Arnolds Park Amusement Park’s hard-working staff, KUOO, the Dickinson County News, the Lakes News Shopper, and MC22 for their non-stop coverage. A big shout out to Spirit Lake High School Senior, Emmaline Hughes, for a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem for our Extravaganza and her time with us as our J-Term Intern. 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 Membership and Events

Cari Jack – Communications Administrator

Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce

2019 Winter Games Cheerleaders: VOTES ARE IN!

After collecting nominations for all of December and holding community-wide voting on January 3rd and 4th, the Winter Games Committee has officially tallied up the votes! We now present to you the 2019 University of Okoboji Winter Games Cheerleaders.


Lori & George Bower, Spirit Lake

As a radio personality, George has been the ultimate cheerleader for the Iowa Great Lakes ever since he first moved to the area in 1995. From his position as the morning guy at KUOO to his most recent job as the Farm Director at KICD, George has always loved highlighting all of the wonderful people and places found in and around the lakes area. Both on and off the air, George has been known to share his love of the area with family, friends, and listeners far and wide. In his 20+ years of living in the Iowa Great Lakes, George has served on the ECHO Board, the Extension Council, lead youth activities at the YMCA, been a member of both the IGL Rotary and the Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis and served on various church committees as well as taught Sunday School.


Lori has welcomed a generation of children to the Spirit Lake schools in her role as a kindergarten and early childhood development teacher. Her hard-work, dedication, positive attitude, and perpetual smile has set the tone for thousands of children and their families in their first educational experience in public school. Somehow despite going to school early and staying late every day, Lori has managed to volunteer countless hours at her church where she serves on several committees and helps with Sunday School, Bible School, and Wednesday night youth activities; and for Spirit Lake Music Boosters where she served several years as President. She is also active in the Lake Park Garden Club which holds the annual children’s bazaar, volunteers at the Bedell Family YMCA, and served on the Echo Plus board.


Lisa Duffy, Milford

Lisa is a Special Education teacher at the Spirit Lake High School. She is a member of the Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis and is a leader for the Spirit Lake High School Key Club. In this role she helps teach youth how to volunteer and make their community a better place to live. Not only is she involved in Spirit Lake High School, but you can also see her cheering on the youth at Okoboji High School where her daughters attend.She always gives 110% in anything she does with a smile and positive energy. Lisa is a great role model, leader, and volunteer in our community.


Abby Goodlaxson, Okoboji

You will not find anyone with more enthusiasm about all things ‘Okoboji’! She is on her 19thyear teaching P.E. at Okoboji High School. She is a past Iowa Physical Education Teacher of the Year and Central Region High School Teacher of the Year. She is currently serving on the YMCA Board and a leadership team at Okoboji High School. She’s a Middle School Cross Country Coach and is seen cheering on all area sports and music. As a teacher, coach and mentor, she is consistently setting a great example for the students she teaches and for other members of the community. She has also worked on The Queen in the summers for 10 years! Abby is a true champion of the Okoboji area!


Nate & Greta Gruys, Spirit Lake

Nate and Greta embody the Okoboji Spirit! Since returning to Greta’s hometown a few years ago, they have become an integral part of the community. Nate currently serves as Chair of the YMCA Board, is an elder at Grace Lutheran Church, is a member of Rotary and has served on the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission. Greta is a past Chair of Winter Games, President of T.T.T., has served on the board of the Pearson Lakes Art Center, is very active with the Grace Lutheran Church Salad Luncheon and with the Spirit Lake Community Schools.


Jill Harms, Milford

Jill is a true community leader and champion for the Iowa Great Lakes. She has recently won Entrepreneur of the Year through the Iowa Lakes Corridor. Jill has spent countless hours with Okoboji Schools taking activity photographs, leading Okoboji Youth Basketball Association, offering talents for Building for the Future (new middle school) and acting as Okoboji Booster President. Jill also plays an integral part of the Imagine Project Committee that was established to beautify the Iowa Great Lakes. She has also been on the Historic Arnolds Park Board for 7 years. This is her 3rdyear of being President of Restore the Park. She is an active member and leader at St. Joseph’s Catholic church in Milford.


Dr. Ronald J Kolegraff, Milford

Dr. Kolegraff has been a Dickinson County resident for over 30 years. He has been active in the community and schools, while raising 7 children. He is a local business owner of re*be Skin and Vein Clinic, which has been in business in the Iowa Great Lakes Area for over 10 years. He was named to the State Board of Medicine in 2016. Dr. Ron Kolegraff, a practicing surgeon of over 32 years, is Board Certified in General Surgery, a Diplomate of the American Board of Phlebology, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. Dr. Kolegraff and his staff treat hundreds of patients each month. He has truly dedicated his time and talents to this area.


Peg Rick, Orleans

Peggy is a very enthusiastic member of the Lakes area. She has touched the lives of thousands of children as a teacher in the Spirit Lake School District and continues today through substituting. One can often see Peggy cheering on Indian extracurricular events, and she was even given the title of “2015 Fan of the Year”. She was honored at Girls’ State Basketball for sportsmanship and decorum. In the community of Orleans, Peggy is Chairperson of the Orleans Board of Adjustment and also takes pride in keeping the village looking spiffy! Peggy is active in her church – willing to step up to the plate for many needs! If you see Peggy around the Lakes area you can guarantee she has a big smile and a positive attitude.


Congratulations to all those who were nominated. We can’t wait to hear these 9 fantastic individuals cheering loud and proud at the 39th Annual U of O Winter Games on January 24th – 27th!