Whether they played hockey, chopped firewood, consumed steaming bowls of booyah or jumped into cold water, hundreds of people enjoyed themselves at Prairie Farm on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, during the annual Fun on the Flowage and Hay River Plunge.
The weather cooperated with temperatures in the (relatively balmy) low 20s, along with bright sunshine and low winds.
The event brought together the combined efforts of several organizations, including the Prairie Farm Area Lions Club, Alfalfa Fest, Barron-Chetek Youth Hockey Association, Prairie Farm Wrestling Club and Prairie Farm Parent Teacher Organization.
Dozens of area businesses and organizations added financial support for the event.
Volunteers built two fires, including an outdoor blaze near the hockey rink and in the fireplace at the nearby Pioneer Park concession building, where PTO members served up hot food.
The Hay River Plungers used plastic to enclose an open-air picnic shelter to sign up volunteers for their event. Nearby, a cauldron of booyah was prepared by Rick Magler, owner of Connorsville Cheese Store.
He said the recipe includes three kinds of meat, corn, potatoes and other vegetables.
“You cook it slowly, usually over a couple of days, to soften the meat and get it off the bones,” Magler said. “I learned the recipe from my uncle, Ernie Swanson.
A resident of Oakdale, Minn., Swanson used to cooked up several pots of it for his church, back in the 1970s, Magler said.
“They’d cook it all night and the next day, the whole batch would be gone in 90 minutes,” he said.
Back on the flowage, Shawn Lombardo and Lee Gumke were among the teams competing in a firewood chopping contest.
“That’s a workout!” they said after their five-minute round. Each pair of contestants needed to fit pieces of firewood in a pipe to qualify it for the contest.
Nine teams of choppers competed.
Jenny Bergmann, of Clayton, was the winning bidder for a fundraising auction for all of the chopped wood. Brent Young and Matt Norberg were the winning team.
Two event organizers summarized the day’s activities.
Bart Gosnell, owner of the Packer Inn, Prairie Farm, said the event grossed about $5,000 for the Lions, who are trying to restore the Hay River Flowage for outdoor recreation.
Judy Lehman, who helped sign up volunteers for the Hay River Plunge, said the Hay River Plunge was first organized by sisters Valerie Nelson and Vicki Seeger, along with George Christenson, founder of Alfalfa Fest.
Each plunger agreed to pledge $50 in order to take the leap – either through donations or out of their own pocket. Proceeds were donated to five area schools in Polk, Dunn and Barron counties.
Jumpers this year included Yan and Tori White, Isabella Lombardo, LuAnn Coleman, Rachel Wichett, Missy Wolf, Steve Moen, Amy Bechard, BreAnn Scherer, Brian Wardon, Matt Rydel, Sarah Bechel, Janelle Matts, Shawna Stone, Tyler Nichols, Don Kittelson, Jenny Bergman and Alan Gabe.
Lehman said volunteer Wayne Norberg fell into the water while getting ready for the event.
“A couple people donated for him so he should be mentioned (among the jumpers),” she said.