Winter Games Cheerleaders: VOTES ARE IN

The Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to announce the 8 Dickinson County residents who have been elected to cheer loud and proud at the 37th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games presented by Parks Marina.

On January 4 & 5, the general public was encouraged to visit the Chamber office and vote for 8 of the 15 very-worthy candidates nominated. 158 ballots were cast over the course of the two days of voting and the results are as follows:

Kevin Bice of Spirit Lake

Kevin is a long time member of the Spirit Lake City Council. He is a lifelong resident of the Iowa Great Lakes and truly has a passionate love of the area.

Jona Forbes of Spirit Lake

Jona has spent a lifetime working for the betterment of the people of the lakes area and those who come to enjoy themselves here. She is a Past President of Sunrise Kiwanis and current member of Milford Morning Kiwanis. She volunteers at the Pearson Lakes Art Center, is active in Lakes Regional Healthcare Auxiliary, and assists with judging at the Dickinson County Fair.

Bethany Huseman of Milford

Bethany is a fantastic leader and inspiration in our area. She is a lifetime resident that is President of the Iowa Navy Commodores and volunteers her time tirelessly to welcome new businesses and assist with Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber events.

Gayla Place and Greg Place of Spirit Lake

Greg and Gayla are described as simply “fantastic” with the enthusiasm they exhibit in our community. They are huge supporters through Immanuel Lutheran Church, Community Table, Spenser’s Underground, Christmas at the Ritz, and grooming trails for the Dickinson County Snowhawks. They are tireless in their efforts and willingness to donate, prepare and distribute healthy meals. They exemplifying what the Lakes Area is all about.

Doug Stueven of Spirit Lake

Doug has been a volunteer fire fighter for Spirit Lake for over 30 years. Doug has been a volunteer for Winter Games events as well as the Community Theater and Iowa Lakes Community School System. He is very active in his church—serving in a variety of capacities. Doug teaches in the Spirit Lake Community School District and makes children his #1 priority.

Amy Pas

Amy is a true Okoboji enthusiast. She loves the Lakes area and greets everyone with a smile. This past year Amy achieved her goal of the opening of the Lakes Area Dog Park, the first of it’s kind in the Lakes region, improving the area for our Canine friends.

Abby Wilson of Spirit Lake

Abby is a 2009 graduate of Spirit Lake High School. Abby was the 2015 Miss Amazing Queen and runner-up at the National Pageant held in Los Angeles that same year. She works at Echo Plus, Aspasia, and Little Hands Daycare. She exhibits her school and community spirit by supporting all the local teams and fine arts programs. Abby always has a big smile and an encouraging word for those around her.

We are so excited for January 26-29 to arrive, and we couldn’t be happier to have such a great group of individuals elected as the 2017 Winter Games Cheerleaders. They will be cheering on all the participants throughout the weekend, so go get registered for those events at

Registration open for Winter Games 37!

Great news for all our Winter Games fanatics, REGISTRATION IS OPEN! Winter Games 37 is under 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. We are excited to introduce our NEW online registration platform! This is available for your complete convenience, and it will help ensure that your spot is immediately reserved for your desired event from Broomball to Mega Snow Pong.

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 13th. Remember to take a peek at our selection of apparel and merchandise while you are on here as well!

For more information on the 37th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games, contact Kara Matheson at 712-332-2107 or We can’t wait for another great year of Winter Games!

Winter Games 37 Chair & Co-Chair Announced


The Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the Chair & Co-Chair of the 37th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games scheduled for January 26-29, 2017.

Chair Greta Gruys is an Iowa Great Lakes Area native who returned to the area with her husband Nate to raise their three young children; Ilsa, Henrik, and Petra.

She enjoys being involved in the community—currently serving on several boards including the Pearson Lakes Art Center, Dickinson County Conservation Foundation, and the Child and Parent Council of Dickinson County (CHAPCO). She is also the President of the T.T.T. Chapter CD and enjoys volunteering at Grace Lutheran Church in Spirit Lake. In her free time, she enjoys boating, reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

She is thrilled to be the chair of the 37th Annual Winter Games and looks forward to this extremely fun, action-packed weekend each year. Her favorite Winter Game memories are of the bonfire with spectacular fireworks afterwards and cheering on the crazy polar plunge participants!

Co-Chair of the 37th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games is Ryan Davelaar. Ryan is a Real Estate Loan Officer at Farmers Trust & Savings Bank in Spencer.

While originally from Rock Valley, Iowa, Ryan spent a lot of time at The Lakes growing up visiting his grandparents. He lived in the area for a few years following his graduation from Northwestern College, and he returned permanently 8 years ago.

Ryan has been active in Kiwanis since returning to the Lakes. He spent 4 years in Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis and the past 3 years in Spencer Hy-Noon Kiwanis. He is also the current treasurer of the Siouxland Bankers Association and is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Spirit Lake.

In addition to working at Farmers Trust & Savings Bank and his involvement in the community, he also co-owns Mammoth Marketing with his wife, Erin. The two married in September of 2013, and she was actually a previous co-chair/chair as well for Winter Games 32 & 33!

From participating in the youth fishing derbies in the mid-80’s to the broomball tournament with college friends, Ryan has always loved the excitement that the Games brings to the area in January. Some of his favorite experiences were years when there was a lot of snow and ice, making Smith’s Bay look like a giant tailgate party.

Greta and Ryan are excited for the preparation ahead for this 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 Kara Matheson at the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber: or 712-332-2107.

First Winter Games 37 Meeting

Next Tuesday, November 1st is the first University of Okoboji Winter Games Meeting. We will meet at 5:30 PM in the Hedberg Theater located in the Maritime Museum in Arnolds Park.

Event chairs, volunteers, and community members are invited to discuss the plans for this fun NW Iowa tradition. If you would like to host a new event or donate your time and talent to an existing one, we would love for you to attend!

Winter Games 36 Results

2016 Winter Games Results

Kickball sponsored by The Garden’s

1st I- State

2nd The Thirsty Ducks



Overall – Xtreme Country & Sunshine Foods

Best Business – The Okoboji Store

Best Nonprofit – Knights of Columbus

Best Booth – Casey’s of Spirit Lake



Adult- Jodene Kruse, Sibley, IA

6-2 Grade

1st Place – Jackson Geerts, Sioux Falls, SD

2nd Place – Calvin Grosvenor, Okoboji, IA

3rd Place (on tie break) Riley Rockman, Sibley, IA

K-5th Grade

1st Place – Ethan Stecker, Spirit Lake

2nd Place (on play off) Dylan Stecker, Spirit Lake, IA

3rd Place- James Williams, Estherville, IA


22 Players Total in the Cribbage Tournament


Polar Plunge sponsored by Okoboji Harley-Davidson

97 people took a dip in the frozen waters of West Lake Okoboji to benefit APO Fire & Rescue


Bean Bags sponsored by KICD 107.7 & More 104.9 FM

1st Place – I Am Ben Smith Coached by Pete

2nd Place – Brothers from Different Mothers

3rd Place – Bag Daddies

4th Place – Physics Baby

Consolation – Noodle & Noodle

Consolation Runner-Up – Naniot


Chocolate Classic sponsored by Mary Lynn Ingvall of DOWDEN HINN REALTORS

1st Place – Minervas

2nd Place – Mary Abbott

3rd Place – Mr. Fudge


Flag Football sponsored by Parks Marina, Incorporated

1st Place – Dry Dock

2nd Place – Norv

3rd Place – Raw Dawgs


9th Annual People Project

175 people helped the goldfinch take shape




10K Road Race sponsored by Lakes Regional Healthcare

Overall Men’s – Nick Fear 38:23

Overall Women’s – Olivia Johnson 37:39


5K Road Race sponsored by Lakes Regional Healthcare

Overall Men’s – Andy Coy 17:57

Overall Women’s – Mari Stein 21:48


Broomball sponsored by Shaw’s of Okoboji

1st Place – Kraninger Construction West O

2nd Place – Winklehox

3rd Place – Guaranteed Bat


Bedell Family Y CrossFit Throwdown

Women’s Scaled Division

  1. Heather Brandt – Algona, IA
  2. Jackie Kragel – Bode, IA
  3. Tanyce Krause – Waseca, IA


Men’s Scaled Division

  1. Tyler Tabatt – St. Cloud, MN
  2. Skylar Schwartz – Slayton, MN
  3. Darib Vossen – Sartell, MN


Women’s Prescribed Division

  1. Christy Prenzlow – Spencer, IA
  2. Deena Damico – Waseca, MN
  3. Kenzie Mosher – Spencer, IA


Men’s Prescribed Division

  1. Andrew Palm – Waseca, MN
  2. Jay Mosher – Spencer, IA
  3. Nick Ihrke – Rochester, MN


KAPCO Indoor Golf Tournament

1st Flight

  1. Mike Hamilton & Todd Helmers
  2. Mike Clark & Walker Hannan
  3. Nick Fear & Jeff Danbom


2nd Flight

  1. Blain Andera & Steve Schnell
  2. Nic ogan & Mitch Rayman
  3. Chis Kennedy & Tom Chavez


3rd Flight

  1. Brandon Coffman & Tristan Monaghan
  2. Brian Grover & Dave Beelner
  3. Seth Vogel & Josh Wolterstorff


4th Flight

  1. Brent Newcomb & Andy Hill
  2. Justin Stahly & Jay Hall
  3. Matt Kenny & TJ Murphy


Closest to the Pin

  1. Jeff Danbom 3’
  2. Steve Hanson 5’2
  3. Cam Erickson 6’


Cribbage Classic

49 particiapants

  1. Brandon Ditman – Ankeny, IA
  2. Jerry Logemann – Sargeant Bluff, IA
  3. Don Guthmiller
  4. Skipper Winey
  5. Ron Mathison
  6. Steve Johnson


Snowball Softball sponsored by The Ritz

  1. Merritt Construction
  2. C. Hammered
  3. Low Standards



Winter Games 36 Cheerleaders Announced!

Image 24University of Okoboji Winter Games 36 Cheerleaders Announced

The Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 8 Dickinson County residents who have been elected to cheer on participants throughout our campus during the 36th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games presented by Parks Marina and The Barefoot Bar.

On Tuesday and Wednesday January 5 & 6 the general public was encouraged to visit the chamber office and vote for 8 of the 26 very-worthy candidates nominated. 155 ballots were cast over the course of the two days of voting and here are the results:

Diane Albers

Diane has resided in the Lakes Area for over 45 years and has owned and operated the Carousel Daycare & Preschool in Spirit Lake for 34 of those years, touching the lives of thousands of families with her kindness, compassion and dedication to our community’s youth.

Much more than a preschool teacher, Diane also looks out for area families without the financial means to feed and clothe their children by lending a much-appreciated and compassionate hand. Diane has, on more than one occasion, provided free daycare to families in-need, most recently to a young family who lost their rental home and all belongings to fire.

Diane is the proud mother of daughter Darcy and son Damon and doting grandmother to Amaya, Creighton & Ryder.   In 2015 Diane lost her biggest cheerleader, husband Lyle, who will be eagerly waiting to see his wife and her pom-poms from Heaven.

Darcy Albers-Sundall

Darcy is a lifetime resident of Spirit Lake. This proud mother of three currently co-owns and operates the Carousel Preschool & Daycare with her mother, Diane, who is also a cheerleader for the 36th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games.

As a youngster by her mother’s side at the Carousel, Darcy developed a passion and affinity for preschool education. Darcy prides herself in encouraging her “kids” to live, laugh and learn and when one enters the preschool you immediately sense the love and devotion the students feel from Darcy and every one of the teachers. She is quick to go above-and-beyond for families to ensure their children receive every opportunity to learn and grow. For instance, last year Darcy provided transportation to and from the Carousel for a 4-year old boy whose single mother suffered from a debilitating injury. Had she not done that, the youngster would not have had the chance to attend preschool and socialize with other children.

This devoted educator and her husband Kim are Spirit Lake residents and the proud parents of Kaitlin, Amaya, Creighton & Ryder. Darcy is an active mentor to area school children, a past coach, Relay for Life volunteer, religion teacher and now a devoted sports and band mom!

Diane & Darcy are the first mother/daughter duo to serve as cheerleaders the same year!

Jason Harrington

Jason has been an amazing unofficial cheerleader for the entire Iowa Great Lakes region for the past 13 years working diligently to make our community an even better place in which to live and visit in many ways.

This Spirit Lake resident either is or has been actively involved on many boards, including the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Dickinson County Trails, Compass Pointe and the Bedell Family YMCA. Jason has also worked to make the healthy choice the easy choice by serving as the co-chair of the Spirit Lake Blue Zones Initiative and tirelessly worked to improve healthcare services as the President and CEO of Lakes Regional Healthcare. Harrington is also involved in many civic organizations, such as Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis.

When he’s not actively volunteering his time and talents, Jason is taking full advantage of our area’s year-round natural beauty and amenities by cycling (on his Harley or bike), running, fishing, hunting, boating, swimming and spending time with his wife, Mickey, and their two active children, Alec & Brooke.

Overall, as a leader, Jason shows respect, interest and compassion for everyone he meets, has humility and discipline in himself, pride and appreciation for everyone and everything in the community he and his family call home.

Norm Meinking

A Dickinson County resident for over 55 years, there has been no bigger cheerleader for the Iowa Great Lakes than Norm Meinking. At 84 years young, Norm can often been seen pedaling on the trails and working out and enjoying coffee at the Y.

Norm has dedicated his life to both his family and community by giving of his time, talent and resources. He has been an active member of the Spirit Lake Noon Kiwanis for 53 years and was the Kiwanis Citizen of the Year in 1999. An avid cyclist, Norm started the BRASL bike ride with Martha Chozen and was instrumental in connecting the Jackson, Minnesota Trail to his beloved Dickinson County Trail system.

Norm currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Discovery House and the Dickinson County Historical Society. In the past, he has served on the board of the Spirit Lake School Foundation, The Dickinson County Fair, Kinship, BABES and many more. Norm has also donated his time and resources to the Pearson Lakes Art Center, The Okoboji Foundation, serving breakfast to the Spirit Lake Football team on game day, sandbagging families during the flood of ’93, raising funds for high school band and athletic uniforms and serving the original Dickinson County Hospital.

Norm and his beloved late wife Nelda raised their three daughters in Spirit Lake and have 4 grand and 2 great-grandchildren. Norm also considers all of his friends and cycling buddies part of his extended family.

Barry Sackett

This active father of four and Okoboji resident is a champion for countless causes and organizations in the Iowa Great Lakes. Barry has served as an unofficial cheerleader for the University of Okoboji his entire life both personally and professionally.

In addition to being a local business owner, Barry contributes countless hours of his time to organizations and causes near and dear to his heart. This selfless man serves on the boards of the Bedell Family YMCA, Dickinson County Trails, Okoboji Foundation, Iowa Lakes Corridor, Okoboji Protective Association and gives of his time and talent to numerous nonprofits in the region.

In addition to his professional pursuits, Barry has always been actively involved in all University of Okoboji events including any and all bike and road races and what he refers to as the “Winter Games Triathlon”- Freeze Your Fanny Bike Ride, Winter Games 10K and the Polar Plunge.

Barry and his wife JoAnne are the proud parents of 4 children, who all share his passion and enthusiasm for the Iowa Great Lakes. You’ll see Barry around the campus during the games, not just cheering, yet competing in his favorite events!

Dr. Eric & Sally Nielsen

The first chairperson of the University of Okoboji Winter Games, Eric Nielsen has been the quintessential cheerleader for this event since the first broomball tournament 36 years ago.

Many Spirit Lake residents know Dr. Nielsen as their dentist and as their former Mayor. Eric selflessly served his citizens in that capacity from 1988 until 2007. He spent countless hours working to revitalize Hill Avenue and bringing both business and industry to our area.

Sally has been an active in the community with Meals on Wheels, the Dickinson County Industrial Board, school bond issues and fundraising for the Bedell Family YMCA, Pearson Lakes Art Center and more.

Eric has been Spirit Lake Kiwanis Citizen of the Year, served on the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Board and along with his wife Sally, served as “boosters” for causes and organizations throughout our entire community.

Eric and Sally are the parents of three grown children (Scott, Abby & Kristin) and the doting grandparents of two!

Cindy Mart

An Iowa Navy Commodore, Cindy has been involved as a volunteer with the Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce for close to a decade. From welcoming new businesses and residents to the area, to helping with Fall Fest, Winter Games and Walleye Weekend you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more enthusiastic and passionate volunteer.

This busy and mother of three is a mortgage loan officer at Central Bank in Spirit Lake. She and her husband Todd farm between Spirit Lake and Terril with their three sons. Cindy is very generous with her time and expertise, making clients, friends, fellow volunteers and Spirit Lake student athletes feel both welcome and valued.

Whether its painting a goal post, assembling bleachers, coordinating youth bonding meals, organizing athletic booster t-shirt orders or stuffing the children’s goodie bags for Fall Fest, Cindy consistently and unselfishly gives of her time and expertise. And if you’ve been around Cindy, you know that both her smile and laugh are contagious.


2016 Chair Nick Stauss and Greta Gruys

The Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the Chair & Co-Chair of the 36th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games scheduled January 29-31, 2016.

Chair Nick Stauss is a lifelong resident of the Iowa Great Lakes and a graduate of Spirit Lake High School. Nick resides in Spirit Lake and is a Realtor/Co-Owner of Stauss Realty.   It was actually at the 2003 University of Okoboji Winter Games that Nick had his first date with now wife, Carrie, who works with at-risk youth. Their adorable daughter Emily turns 2 this coming November.

Nick has been involved in countless facets of the Winter Games over the years, is a board member of the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, involved the NW Iowa University of Iowa I-Club and is excited to bring new events and sponsors into the fold for the 2016 edition of the games.

Co-Chair of the 36th Annual University of Okoboji Winter Games is Greta Gruys. Greta is also an Iowa Great Lakes native and Spirit Lake High School graduate who returned to the area with her husband to raise their family.

Greta loved growing up in the Iowa Great Lakes and is so happy and proud to call this fantastic community home. She is a certified family nurse practitioner and her husband Nate works as a consultant with an Oracle software partner. Greta and Nate are busy parents to three young children; Ilsa, Henrik, and Petra. In her free time, Greta and her family love being outdoors and enjoying the incredible activities and opportunities here in the Iowa Great Lakes including the Dickinson County Trails, boating, and golf.

To get involved in the University of Okoboji Winter Games, please contact Jen Johnson-Ross at the Iowa Great Lakes Chamber: