Welcome to the 41st annual Winter Games

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
File photo by Dave Petrick

The 41st annual University of Okoboji Games is ready to begin once again in the Iowa Great Lakes. The weekend is set to kick off early with a snowman building contest throughout the day Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Roof Garden Ballroom in Arnolds Park. Things will get a bit heavier before the night's end when The Throwing Post in Arnolds Park offers visitors its namesake axe throwing experience from 6-10 p.m.

Friday will begin with four all-day events the boats on ice show at Parks Marina, $5 ice skate rentals for the open skate at Okoboji Boat Works, Camp Okoboji's family ice fishing retreat at its campground in Milford and another snowman building contest, this time at Okoboji Boat Works. Most of those events will continue through the weekend. Friday will also see the festively colored giant kites hoisted over the frozen surface of West Lake Okoboji from 10 a.m .to 4 p.m. near Arnolds Park Amusement Park. Pickleball enthusiasts can volley for serve at Spirit Lake High School from 2-5 p.m., and The Throwing Post will offer axe throwing to round out the day again that evening.

File photo by Matt Heinrichs

The bulk of Winter Games action will fall on Saturday. Along with the previous all-day events, Parks Marina will add a hanging bar competition in which participants can showcase their strength. Helicopter rides will also take off from the marina, and the amusement park plans to display interactive ice sculpture for the public. Oak Hill Outdoor in Milford will welcome shivering visitors inside for a warm-up station from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. The staff will be providing free coffee, cocoa and cider to take the chill off. Back in Arnolds Park, Nautical Okoboji Bar and Grill will have its Kegs and Eggs from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and The Throwing Post will hold its 10 for $10 Tournament from 8 a.m. to noon. And those looking for a little more tranquility can sample a session of "snowga" with Janine of Yoga Okoboji from 8-9 a.m. yoga mats will be available to borrow.

Several winterized sporting events are on the docket from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Spectators can cheer on their favorite team during the staple broomball tournament in Smith's Bay on West Lake Okoboji, the flag football tournament at Parks Marina or the snow softball tournament at The Ritz in Arnolds Park. By 9 a.m., runners will have taken their first strides in the 5K Fun Run outside the Majestic Pavillion in Arnolds Park registration closes at 8:30 a.m. While the runners are getting started, the first competitors in the human foosball competition will be taking their positions a short distance away in Preservation Plaza. Meanwhile, the indoor volleyball tournament at the Spirit Lake Middle School will be getting underway.

The next hour will keep the action rolling when the hammerschlagen tournament begins at 10 a.m. at the Dry Dock. Okoboji Motorsports will also demonstrate UTVs and studded Polaris Slingshots on the ice just across the Highway 71 bridge near The Ritz at that time. Oak Hill Marina will pour hot cocoa and hot totties for anyone in need of a warm up during the Winter Games family ice fishing event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Arnolds Park Amusement Park will host a pinball tournament using some of the vintage pinball machines inside the park's newest museum wing from 10 a.m .to 4 p.m. The giant kites will fly once again during that time, and young ones can try their hand at decorating their own standard-sized kites from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and maybe try flying them outside with the pros. Food trucks will be on the park grounds from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the park has indicated seating will be available in the Majestic Pavillion.

File photo by Seth Boyes

The Business Today Bowling Tournament will rollout at 11 a.m. at Corner Lanes in Spirit Lake an adult tournament is scheduled from 3-7 p.m. that evening, and bowlers can lace up for another round of play at 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 31. The clippty-clop of horse drawn carriages and trick ponies will echo through Parks Marina around 11 a.m. Saturday and will be paired with games for the youngest Winter Games competitors.

The Fish Shack is sure to attract some colorful characters around noon as it hosts a best beards contest until 2 p.m. voting from 2-3 p.m. with the winner being announced at 3:30 p.m. as well as redneck curling until 6 p.m. The noon hour will also mark the starting time for the Ice Oval Shootout races at Parks Marina sign up closes at 10 a.m. and practice begins an hour later. A classic bean bag toss tournament will begin at 1 p.m at The Gardens in Arnolds Park, with a 12:30 p.m. check in time, and the ever-entertaining human dogsled races will mush at 1 p.m. as well back at Parks Marina.

F45 Fitness in Arnolds Park plans to host the inaugural Winter Games snowball fight the same hour in Preservation Plaza, while a match game show tournament buzzes in at the Majestic Pavillion. Okoboji Boat Works will trade it's bearded competitors for some even hairier competitors from 1-2 p.m. during the Best in Show winter dog show. Once the best of the good dogs is crowned, spectators and competitors will be spinning with anticipation for the 2 p.m. Drill or Die hand ice auger races at Parks Marina.

File photo by Dave Petrick

The popular Polar Plunge will make its usual splash at 3 p.m. registration opens at 1:30 p.m. and raise funds for the Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire and Rescue dive team. The winner of the weekend's ongoing snowman building contest will also be announced at 3 p.m. at Okoboji Boat Works. A stein holding contest is scheduled for 3 p.m. as well at the Barefoot bar, and competitors can shift gears to keg throwing at 4 p.m. if they head over to The Gardens.

The night's official festivities will end at 6:30 p.m. with the traditional Fireworks Extravaganza and the burning of the greens near Preservation Plaza.

Sunday will round out the weekend's happenings. Though the snowman building contest will have named it's champion, Camp Okoboji's family ice fishing retreat will continue, along with the indoor pickleball tournament at Spirit Lake High School and skate rentals at Okoboji Boat Works. Oak Hill Outdoor will again offer it's warm drinks to cold competitors in need of a break, and the giant kites will grace the skies over West Lake Okoboji one last time from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. that day.


41st annual University of Okoboji Winter Games schedule of events

File photo by Seth Boyes

Thursday, Jan. 28

All Day Snowman building contest at the Roof Garden Ballroom, Arnolds Park

6-10 p.m. Axe throwing at The Throwing Post, Arnolds Park


File photo by Matt Heinrichs

Friday, Jan. 29

All Day Boats on ice show at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

All Day Camp Okoboji's family ice fishing retreat at Camp Okoboji, Milford

All Day Snowman building contest at Okoboji Boatworks, Okoboji

All Day $5 ice skate rentals and open skate at Okoboji Boatworks, Okoboji

6-10 a.m. KUOO Radio Show 2 Go kick-off breakfast at The Boat Club above Snappers, East Lake Okoboji

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Okoboji Winter Games kite festival at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park

2-5 p.m. Indoor pickleball tournament and open rec play/practice at Spirit Lake High School, Spirit Lake

6-10 p.m. Axe throwing at The Throwing Post, Arnolds Park


File photo by Seth Boyes

Saturday, Jan. 30

All Day $5 ice skate rentals and open skate at Okoboji Boatworks, Okoboji

All Day Axe throwing at The Throwing Post, Arnolds Park

All Day Boats on ice show at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

All Day Camp Okoboji's family ice fishing retreat at Camp Okoboji, Milford

All Day Hanging bar competition - test your strength - at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

All Day Helicopter rides at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

All Day Interactive ice sculptures - Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park

All Day Snowman building contest at Okoboji Boat Works, Okoboji

6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Warm up station with free coffee, cocoa and cider at Oak Hill Outdoor, Milford

7:30 - 8:30 a.m. 5K Fun Run check in and registration (start at 9 a.m.) at the Majestic Pavilion, Arnolds Park

8-9 a.m. Snowga with Janine and Yoga Okoboji (mats available to borrow) at Berkley Bedell State Pier, Arnolds Park

8-11 a.m. Kegs and Eggs at Nautical Okoboji Bar and Grill, Arnolds Park

8 a.m. to Noon Axe Throwing "10 for $10 Tournament" at The Throwing Post, Arnolds Park

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Broomball tournament at Smith's Bay, West Lake Okoboji

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Flag football tournament at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Snow softball tournament at The Ritz, Arnolds Park

9 a.m. 5K Fun Run (registration closes at 8:30 a.m.) at the Majestic Pavillion, Arnolds Park

9 a.m. Human foosball tournament, Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park

9-10 a.m. Ice Oval Shootout race sign up at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

File photo by Dave Petrick

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Indoor volleyball tournament at Spirit Lake Middle School and High School, Spirit Lake

10 a.m. Hammerschlagen tournament at the Dry Dock, Arnolds Park

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Okoboji Motorsports studded slingshot demonstration on the ice at The Ritz, Arnolds Park

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Okoboji Motorsports UTV demonstration on the ice at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Winter Games family ice fishing at Oak Hill Marina, Arnolds Park

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pinball tournament at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Okoboji Winter Games kite festival at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Food trucks at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park

10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Kids Color Your Own Kites to fly with the pros at the Majestic Pavillion, Arnolds Park

11 a.m. Business Today Bowling Tournament at Corner Lanes, Spirit Lake

11 a.m. Horse drawn carriage rides, trick pony show and kids games at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

11 a.m. Ice Oval Shootout race practice at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

Noon to 2 p.m. Best beards contest at the Fish Shack, Okoboji Boat Works

Noon to 2 p.m. Redneck curling at Okoboji Boat Works, Okoboji

Noon Ice Oval Shootout races (sign up closes at 10 a.m. and practice begins at 11 a.m.) at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

Noon Live ice carving at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

Noon Redneck curling at the Fish Shack, Okoboji Boat Works

1 p.m. Bean bag toss tournament at The Gardens, Arnolds Park

File photo by Matt Heinrichs

1 p.m. Human dogsled races (check-in at 12:30 p.m.) at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

1 p.m. Inaugural F45 Winter Games Snowball Fight at Preservation Plaza, Arnolds Park

1-2 p.m. Best in Show winter dog show at Okoboji Boat Works, Okoboji

1-3 p.m. Game show tournament at the Majestic Pavillion, Arnolds Park

2 p.m. Drill or Die hand auger races at Parks Marina/Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

2-3 p.m. Best beards contest voting at the Fish Shack, Okoboji Boat Works

3 p.m. Polar plunge (registration opens at 1:30 p.m.) at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park

3 p.m. Snowman building contest winner announced at Okoboji Boat Works, Okoboji

3 p.m. Stein holding contest at the Barefoot Bar, East Lake Okoboji

3-7 p.m. Business Today Adult Bowling Tournament at Corner Lanes, Spirit Lake

3:30 p.m. Best beards contest winner announced at the Fish Shack, Okoboji Boat Works

4 p.m. Keg toss on the ice at The Gardnes, Arnolds Park

6:30 p.m. Fireworks Extravaganza and burning of the greens at Preservation Plaza, Arnolds Park


Sunday, Jan. 31

File photo by Matt Heinrichs

All Day Camp Okoboji's family ice fishing retreat at Camp Okoboji, Milford

All Day Indoor pickleball tournament at Spirit Lake High School, Spirit Lake

All Day $5 ice skate rentals and open skate at Okoboji Boat Works, Okoboji

6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Warm up station with free coffee, cocoa and cider at Oak Hill Outdoor, Milford

10 a.m to 4 p.m. Okoboji Winter Games kite festival at Arnolds Park Amusement Park, Arnolds Park

11 a.m. Business Today Bowling Tournament at Corner Lanes, Spirit Lake


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