Otter Tail County on Ice kicked off Friday, Feb. 8. Dozens of staff members stormed the ice to put on a musical festival. The event took place on frozen Otter Tail Lake.
The lake was a literal frozen tundra on Friday night. Cold so extreme that heat generators malfunctioned, fingers froze, and people had to huddle into the event tent to keep warm. This is the second year of the event and cold temperatures are nothing new. Last year temperatures plummeted and OTC on Ice partied through the cold.
Erik Osberg, event manager, has been frantically assembling the event despite freezing cold and a blizzard that slammed the lake just before opening day. "We had a blizzard on Thursday! We had the roads plowed, we had the site prepped, I'm feeling good, the tent is up, then a blizzard comes, we almost had to start over from scratch," said Osberg. After employing a lot of ingenuity and hardwork, new equipment was moved in. A little heat flowed and the fun began.
Ice houses littered the giant lake while snowmobiles whizzed by. The event is home to a bevy of specially crafted events that best represent Otter Tail County. A snowmobile trail, food, shopping, live music, and even a little curling could easily keep a person busy for hours.
Gloria Hedstrom wouldn't let the cold slow her down. She and her teammates had a blast curling in the sub-zero temperatures. At 15 below zero, Hedstrom and her team skillfully guided specially designed curling rocks fashioned from pieces of lumber. Their team won first place in a tie breaker match with a score of 7-5
"I love everything about Otter tail County," said Marie Noplos, vendor coordinator for OTC on Ice. She was bundled up inside the event tent efficiently directing vendors behind the scenes. Noplos spoke to the incredible amount of time and energy the county invests into this one of a kind event. This year, the county contracted a business from Minneapolis to construct a special tent that would more effectively hold heat. The tent is like a mobile building jutting out from the tundra, filled with spectators, resturanteers, and good fun. Walking in is quite a surprise, the crowd area is very large for what is essentially a fabricated igloo.
This year the event has a much larger emphasis on the music. Live music included bands like Aaron Simmons & the Roadkill, Tigirlily, and more. Aaron Simmons discussed their performance on Friday night. It was a cold night according to Simmons. Initially it was hard to play, fingers were definitely frozen, but as the night went on and the crowd filed in, the excitement spiked. "One of the most fun shows we've had," said Simmons. Simmons has been taking music seriously as a career for three years and frequently goes on tour. His band plays downhome country with a splash of folk. A generous portion of his music focuses on Minnesota and the joys of living in the state.
OTC on ice is a testament to living in Ottertail County. It's an event designed from the ground up to show that snow and ice don't stop anyone from having fun, even in the dead of winter. OTC on Ice takes place over the course of two days and requires almost two months of preparation. A main goal of the event is to showcase the finer points of Otter Tail County in hopes that people will move to the area.