OSHKOSH — Families and friends bundled up in their warmest winter attire for the Otter Street Winter Fisheree at Menominee Park in Oshkosh Saturday.
Flurries of snow flew about while kids played games for prizes or slid down giant snow piles on sleds.
Snowmobiles and ATVs zoomed about every which way, racing around a track on Lake Winnebago or around the bay as transportation around the event.
The 12 degree weather was no bother for those who came to catch up with old friends, fish or hang out watching the races.
“If you live in Wisconsin it’s not cold if you dress right,” Tonia Munger of Neenah said. Munger and her husband, Heath, were there with their daughter, Hannah, and son, Weston, for the first time. The family was excited for the snowmobile and ATV races.
“It’s nice that the ice is safe this year so we can actually enjoy it,” Heath Munger said.
The annual event has been put on by the Otter Street Fishing Club for some 50 years, Scott Engel, the club’s president, said.
Engel, who grew up going to the fisheree himself, said it’s become a tradition for generations of families. He expected between 2,000 and 5,000 people to come throughout the day.
“It’s the middle of winter, people get cabin fever,” he said. “I think people look forward to something like this where they get to get out and see a lot of people they haven’t seen for a while.”
He said the fundraising fisheree is a win-win event for both the people who go and the city. The Otter Street Fishing Club does lots of projects to help the betterment of fishing in the area.
The club does conservation projects and other things with the Department of Natural Resources and city parks, as well as with fishing piers, boat launches, and numerous other projects on Lake Winnebago and the Fox River.
That’s one reason why Wayne and Lynn Felder of Oshkosh wanted to go.
“It’s a good way to raise money for the club,” Wayne Felder said. “For the bridges, for the ice and all the stuff they do to help out.”
Camaraderie also keeps the Felders come back, he said, and they’ve been attending the fisheree for about 20 years.
Roger Michalski and his daughter Melissa, 9, were out on the ice waiting for the races to start.
Michalski, who is a member of the fishing club and has been going to the fisheree for almost a decade, said the atmosphere and people, fishing and races keep him coming back every year.
Like her father, Melissa said her favorite part was the races, too.
“I like how they go so fast and how they wipeout,” she said, adding she also likes to fish with her dad.
Jim Gibbons was hanging out with the father-daughter pair. He said the family traditions of the fisheree are what keep it alive.
“People bring their whole families out for it,” Gibbons said. “It’s not something specifically for adults.. I think that’s pretty cool.”
Bill Glander echoed his sentiment. While warming up in the entertainment tent with his great grandson Cameron, he said it’s fun to see everyone enjoying themselves together.
“It’s a family deal,” he said. “That’s what makes it successful.”
There were $10,000 worth of raffle prizes to win, like an ATV, a trip to Las Vegas for two, TVs, meat, guns and cash, as well as $250 in donated prizes from local businesses.
There were also prizes for the biggest walleye, northern, perch and white bass.
Noell Dickmann: (920) 426-6658 or firstname.lastname@example.org