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Wisconsin Parent

Winter Events in Fond du Lac: Ice and Snow Sailing, Sturgeon Spearing, Adventure Races

Jan 08, 2015 08:06AM ● By Julie Henning
Cold Cheeks, Warm Hearts: Family-Friendly Winter Events in Fond du Lac for Valentines Weekend

Sub zero temperatures and arctic blasts don't have everyone in Wisconsin dreaming of palm trees and sand between their toes. Cold weather means thick ice and that's exactly what winter-hardy participants need for the WISSA 2015 World Ice and Snow Sailing Championship running February 9-14 in Fond du Lac.

Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin's largest inland lake, sets the stage for the races and the event will draw enthusiasts and competitors from around with world, including Russia, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Canada, and the United States. Ice and snow sailing enthusiasts will compete in three classes: sled, kite, and wings. Competitors are men, women, and juniors and event registration is still open. Over the past year, local organizers (including the Winnebago Association of Kiteboarders, Wind Power Windsurfing Center and the Fond du Lac Area Convention & Visitors Bureau) have been planning the 2015 competition in partnership with WISSA.

Wind Kiting CollageThat said, if you're coming in to check out the races, you may want to plan your visit with some of the other activities and events happening in the Fond du Lac region including the 2015 Sturgeon Spearing season that begins on Valentine's Day. I participated in the Women on Winnebago Sturgeon Spearing event last year and really enjoyed myself. If you didn't secure a license by the October 2014 deadline, you can still come out and watch the action; Wendt's on the Lake is a fun place to see people bring in sturgeon to be weighed, tagged, and recorded by the Wisconsin DNR.

sturgeonFor families, the 26th Annual Sturgeon Stampede is a great choice. This year's event runs February 12-15 and is located on Lake Winnebago off the shores of Roosevelt Park (Near all the WISSA action; last year we parked right out on the ice and there was plenty of room for everyone.).

BonfireWith an area for people to try kiteboarding and wind surfing, Sturgeon Stampede has their own races, including the "Big Air" kiting competition (which you can imagine is a hit with kids). Other activities include ice bowling, tetherball, bag toss, an ice bar, heated shelter, music and food.  The bonfire (yes, folks, the ice really is that thick) and fireworks will take place after dusk on Friday, February 13.

Last, but not least, new this year are two new adventure races: the Booty Run Adventure Race and the Spear the Fatty—Fat Tire Bicycle Race. The adventure race is a 5K with winter themed obstacles including the Penguin Slide, Snow Wonder, Bucky Badger Crawl, and Igloo Climb. As the name implies, you can wear boots or running shoes and the event sounds more like an excuse to have fun in the snow than a serious athletic show down. The bicycle race requires "fatty" snow/ice friendly tires for both the 15 and 30 mile courses (there's also a 7 mile, mpt-timed run at noon). Both the adventure and bike races will happen on February 14.

Additional Information

  • A few more Winter Activities in Fond du Lac (indoor fun).
  • A story I wrote about Siberian Outpost (click here), a local dogsledding outfitters that will be giving demonstration rides during the festivities.
  • Links to my NPR travel podcasts about Sturgeon Spearing on Lake Winnebago: Part 1 and Part 2.