Sixty-four people signed up to leap into the frigid water of the Hay River Flowage two months ago, on Feb. 13, 2021, as several Prairie Farm area community organizations combined to host the annual Fun on the Flowage celebration.
The weather had been mild earlier in the month, but the temperatures went well below zero that weekend, and some of the would-be jumpers decided to pass up the experience, according to Judy Lehman, who helped to organize the event in behalf of the Alfalfa Fest, an annual Prairie Farm summertime event that also raises money for charity.
“Still, we had about 50 jumpers that day, and most of the rest still donated their money,” Lehman said Monday, April 12, 2021.
The result: The third “Hay River Plunge” raised so much money that Alfalfa Fest was able to donate $1,000 to each of five area schools, including Prairie Farm.
“When we started three years ago, we ended up with (enough money) to donate $500 to each school,” Lehman said.
But the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to raise more interest this year, she added.
“We were worried about it being so cold this year, but there was a great response, she said. “We even had people show up from Rice Lake. People were sick of being indoors and cooped up.”
In a social media post that appeared late last week, the School District of Prairie Farm said it was “incredibly grateful for Alfalfa Fest, represented by George Christenson and Judy Lehman.”
District Administrator Tom Rich was in a photo that showed the $1,000 check presentation.
“Alfalfa Fest has been generous to our district for many years,” the post added.
Founded in 2003 by Christenson, Alfalfa Fest was first held on his farm in northern Dunn County. After he sold the property in 2019, the event moved to Pioneer Park in the village.
The festival targets its donations to five schools and/or school districts in southern Barron and northern Dunn counties: Ridgeland-Dallas Elementary (Barron Area School District), Boyceville, Clayton, Clear Lake, and Prairie Farm.
The event also raises funds for cancer research and for area hospice programs.