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OTC on Ice back for second year

Otter Tail County on Ice is returning to Otter Tail Lake Feb. 8-9. (Submitted photo)

Nobody has fun quite like Minnesotans, and that goes for a music festival on a frozen lake. Otter Tail County on Ice is coming back to Otter Tail Lake for the second year on Feb. 8-9. The unique music festival has expanded to feature more bands and include more activities for the whole family.

Erik Osberg, rural rebound initiative coordinator for Otter Tail County, said the event originated from ice fishing with a group of his friends year after year. "In my brain I always wanted to have an event, I felt like the area could use a thing in the winter," he said. "This was designed as a way to give locals a reason to celebrate while also giving people new to the area a reason to celebrate, especially in winter."

Last year's inaugural event revolved around the Super Bowl but this year has a larger emphasis on music. "I get really excited about the music," Osberg said. "These are quality musicians." Aaron Simmons & the Roadkill and Minneapolis-based rock band The4onthefloor will kick it off Friday, while Saturday will feature Cindy Jo & Dirt Road Dixie, Nashville's Tigirlily and Minnesota bluegrass band Pert Near Sandstone.

A new attraction is the otter curling bonspiel, which Osberg describes as "redneck curling." Stones were cut from an oak tree into 8 inch chunks; curlers from the Duluth Curling Club will be on hand to demonstrate the proper technique. "I'm excited to see if that idea works," Osberg said. Saturday also includes a snowmobile trail ride and dog sledding demos.

Osberg said there's a lot to look forward to as they refine the process from last year. An upgraded tent and heating system will keep people comfortable with temperatures predicted to be low. "Last year we literally sewed the tents together at the seams," he said. "We're hoping the new tent and new heat will give people a space to celebrate."

Don't bank on the tent being super toasty, though. "I'd encourage people to dress accordingly," Osberg said. "Safety first, let's not do anything silly."