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What Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce president Jeff Thee refers to as “Tuesday’s miracle snow,” brought perhaps thousands of additional revelers to this weekend’s University of Okoboji Winter Games.

“Any time we get the snowfall and hold on to it as we did this week, it feels like those old-fashioned Winter Games, when we had snowmobilers all over the place,” Thee said. “And that’s wonderful, because snowmobilers are historically the ones who stay over a night or two on campus, dine in our restaurants, and buy fuel for their machines. That brings an economic shot-in-the-arm with an exponential increase in retail. So we’re always glad to have nearly ideal weather as we have this weekend.”

The high number of snowmobiles was evidenced in many parking lots, but especially at Okoboji’s Arrowwood Resort, where the lot was full of trucks and trailers hauling snowmobiles and ATVs and bicycles. Jordan James, who was making his first trip from Woodward, Iowa to Okoboji for the Winter Games with four others, hauled three snowmobiles, three four-wheelers and a moped for the five-member group.

With more than 15 years experience at the nearby Kum & Go, sales manager Marlys Nolan said winter weekends are usually slow. But early Saturday morning she explained, “It’s getting to be more like a 4th of July weekend. A lot of snowmobiles gas up here because it’s right across Highway 71 from East Lake Okoboji.”

At the Okoboji Post Office adjacent to the convenience store, clerk Marilyn Olesen said business even picked up a little bit there, with people wanting a commemorative postmark as a keepsake of their participation in the weekend.

In his third year at the Okoboji Expedition Company, the bicycle shop that sponsors the Freeze Your Fanny Bike Ride in the morning and the Frozen Fanny (45-minute, Fat Tire) Challenge race in the afternoon, owner Taylor Huseman said for some businesses, “Winter Games weekend is the second or third busiest weekend of the year. Driving on Highway 71 in the winter months you can normally hit every green light, and not have any issues. Maybe you see two cars. But even Friday traffic was heavier.”

Huseman said he expected 80-100 bicyclists for each ride.


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