IRETON—The sixth annual Ireton Christian School Ice Fishing Tournament has remained a successful fundraiser for the school despite low turnout this year.
A total of $2,100 was raised for the school’s auxiliary fund which supports specific projects for Ireton Christian School each year.
Past projects including gym mats that hang on the wall, water fountains that fill bottles, gymnasium risers for concerts, new windows for classrooms and a new sound system for the gymnasium .
The tournament had 67 participants this year, up from 95 last year.
“But given the weather conditions, I am continually amazed at the number of people who faithfully support our event each year,” said ICS Director Megan Kooima. “Our event has always been on a Saturday in January, and school has been canceled for the past three years on the Friday before our tournament due to blizzards or snowstorms.
“So that being said, I’d like to look back at a good year with fantastic weather in the forecast and see if we can get more people involved who can just show up with a bucket and a pole and not need to an ice shelter.”
This is the school’s sixth year hosting the tournament. Kooima said the second year it was “52 degrees and gorgeous with no wind. The ice was up to 20 inches thick and the kids were outside without coats and having fun. But we can never control the weather, so we keep having it no matter what the weather conditions.
The event is held annually in the Emerson Bay area on West Okoboji Lake.
“We chose it mainly because Camp Okoboji is located in this bay and it is so convenient to have check-in, bathrooms and food in this facility, so people can come in and get away from it all. warm up with coffee or hot chocolate if it’s too cold there and the fish don’t bite,” Kooima said.
Because the school is working with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Camp Okoboji to host the event, Kooima said it was not an easy event to reschedule.
As a result, the school sticks to the same date every year and “prays that people don’t have an accident or risk their lives just to come to the tournament.”
Kooima said the idea for the school fundraiser came to him after hearing how Brainerd, MN held such tournaments over several days.
“I know a lot of people in the area who like ice fishing, we should give it a try. I also know that many of our school’s fundraisers at the time required a lot of effort from the women in our school – ladies’ expo, soup supper, bake sales, clothing, Jog-A- Tuna, etc. – and not to say that men don’t have I don’t help with these fundraisers, but I thought that in the dead of winter, a lot of men, even farmers, could help and participate in this one.
Kooima said many devotees from Rock Valley, Ireton, Boyden, Maurice, Sheldon, Orange City, Sioux Center and Hawarden attend each year.
“There’s a fun camaraderie of anglers and women who like to get together and talk about what the fish are biting, how thick the ice is and of course hot spots,” she said. “We really love seeing the excitement of the kids too if they manage to bring in some fish, but even if they don’t they get at least a free treat from Dairy Queen (another prize giveaway) and then a other price to take home. We really try to encourage young people to go out and try an outdoor activity, even in winter.
This year, the event had 20 corporate sponsors.
More than the tasty cinnamon rolls make the fundraiser a big hit every year.
“Some people say they like to ice fish and they don’t get a lot of opportunity to do it, but at least they know that with this fundraiser it’s a good reason to get out and to fish this weekend,” Kooima said.
- First place, Phil Van Donge, 11.2 pounds
- Second place, Dustin Vander Zwaag, 10.9 pounds
- Third place, Justin Vande Kamp, 10.0 lbs.