You can blame global warming, climate change, or just plain luck (or unluck), but winter weather has been scarce for the most part. Even a predicted snow storm decided to pass by the area. But, the Marshall Lions Club isn’t going to let a lack of the white stuff keep the organization from hosting the annual Ice Fisheree Festival.
The public is invited to Marshall Firemen’s Park Friday and Saturday where the Lions Club will be offering a variety of activities, several of them free, to celebrate winter. Events get underway at 4 p.m. Friday and start as early as 6 a.m. Saturday. For a complete list of times and any event rules and registration, visit the club’s website at www.sightfirst.com or its Facebook page.
Lion, Lee Hellenbrand said the club will monitor ice conditions through the week to determine if the ice fishing contest will be held.
“Late Thursday night or Friday morning, we will have a direction whether fishing will be on or off. Currently the ice conditions aren’t safe and, always ice should be considered not completely safe,” he said.
If there is open water in an area, the organization may opt to host an on-land fishing contest, Hellenbrand said.
An hour-long fish-o-rama contest is also scheduled and will be dependent on ice conditions.
For those concerned about not having a fishing license, this weekend the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is offering free fishing so no license is required.
“All of the other activities will be a go,” the Lion’s member said.
Just because there may be no ice on the water, there will still be ice-related activities such as ice skating. Hellenbrand said the village has set up a skating rink in the park and the Lions Club is hoping to create a second one.
The outhouse races, traditionally held on the ice, will be moved to land if the water has not frozen over. Last year, the contest was held on the land due to a lack of ice. Hellenbrand said new this year will be a prize for best-designed new outhouse entry.
While there hasn’t been a lot of snowfall this winter, the organization has created a few snow blocks from what the area has received for the sculpting contest. Hellenbrand said a number of the blocks have already been reserved, but there were still a few available at the start of the week.
Other activities taking place will be the coyote and rabbit hunts, card tournaments (held inside a heated building at the park), steel fish toss, keg toss, hammerschlagen, and flag football.
“Conditions are actually looking good for (flag football) because we’d like to actually have snow for that,” Hellenbrand said.
There will also be food and refreshments for sale and several raffles including for cash, guns, and larger prizes.
“And you never know what we’ll have for our bucket raffle and silent auction,” Hellenbrand said.
In past years, the Lions have had more than 1,500 participants for the two-day event. Proceeds go to various community related projects such as Coats for Kids, eyeglasses for those in need, youth leadership training, Marshall Youth Club, Boy Scouts, Marshall FFA, Marshall Prom, improvements to Lions Park and various projects to help others in need.