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Winter Fest returns to frozen Lake Altoona

Festival’s return to frozen Lake Altoona appreciated by fans

posted Jan. 29, 2017 12:00 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Samantha West

  • mw_winterfest_7a_012917
    Volunteers Emeka Hazwood, left, of Fond du Lac, and Matt Mellien of Altoona tend to the bonfire Saturday at the Northwest Wisconsin Winter Fest and Games.

ALTOONA — It was back to Lake Altoona for Chippewa Valley winter enthusiasts dedicated to celebrating Wisconsin’s notorious cold winters at the 2017 Northwest Wisconsin Winter Fest and Games.

“You know, in Wisconsin, if you don’t get out in the winter and do something fun, that’s just a shame,” said Mike Carlson, an event organizer. “This (Winter Fest) is the perfect opportunity to do that.”

At the three-day event, visitors can partake in or spectate ice fishing, kubb, softball, hockey, volleyball and disc golf. Sponsored by CCF Bank and the Leader Telegram, the event also features live music and food. Although snowmobile drag racing was canceled this year, the event still features ATV and motorcycle racing.

With the move back to Lake Altoona after a year on Lake Wissota and and some changes to parking, Carlson said Saturday he was pleased with the event’s attendance thus far.

Event-goers this year were strongly encouraged to utilize the shuttle bus service, which arrived at nearby Altoona locations every half hour.

“Just looking out at the lake, there’s a lot of people,” Carlson said. “Buses seem to be delivering a lot of people to the lake and it’s working out well. Every bus that comes is close to being full.”

Carlson said Saturday’s weather, a balmy 29-degree high for the day, according to The Weather Channel, did not put a damper on the day’s events.

“This is Wisconsin and the upper 20s seems to be very comfortable for people,” Carlson said. “Everyone’s all bundled up and out on the lake enjoying some winter fun.”

New Auburn resident Dan Casey, 55, said he and his son Will, 25, were originally drawn to the event to watch the motorcycle racing out on the ice. Dan Casey has been riding for 15 years, and the two have been riding together for the last four years after Dan bought Will a motorcycle.

The father-son duo had planned to attend the event last year, but when the motorcycle and ATV events were canceled, they decided not to. Dan Casey said they were glad those events weren’t canceled this year, and they could enjoy different winter sports on the frozen lake.

Having moved back to Wisconsin just a year ago after spending the last several years in Iowa, Dan Casey said he was glad to be closer to his son, who lives in Eau Claire, and is able to celebrate winter.

“We just wanted to get back to Wisco,” he said. “You’ve gotta be out on the ice. … If you live in Wisconsin, you’ve got to participate in winter, you know?”

Contact: 715-833-9203, samantha.west @ecpc.com