Due to inconsistent ice conditions on Otter Tail Lake, the Otter Tail County on Ice planning committee has decided to take a safety-first approach by moving the large music tent to the parking lot of Thumper Pond Resort in Ottertail, according to an Otter Tail County news release.

"We were holding out hope that we could have the main tent on the lake, however, we felt it was in everyone's best interest to make the move," said Erik Osberg, event manager. "We've been checking ice thickness frequently and we've found spots on Otter Tail with as much as 18 inches of ice, we've also found spots with as little as 9 inches. The heavy snow has hindered ice formation and led to a lot of slush and water on top of the ice. Some attendees might be disappointed with the decision, and we can appreciate that, but we believe it will still be a very entertaining weekend."

Since music is the main draw of the event, moving the main tent to land will ensure those shows happen without a hitch. Six bands will perform this year. Whiskey Business and 32 Below will take the stage on Friday, Jan. 31 starting at 6 p.m. White Iron Band, Corey Medina & Brothers, Patrick Murphy and Tigirlily perform on Saturday, Feb. 1.

For those who are accustomed to staying in their fish houses for the weekend, the planning committee has added accommodations. Thumper Pond Resort will be offering free access to their on-site RV Park/Campground. People who wish to take advantage of this offer are encouraged to call Thumper Pond at 218-367-2000 to reserve a spot. Shuttle buses will also run from the Pelican Bay access to Thumper Pond and The Otter to give folks who do decide to stay on Otter Tail Lake a safe and sober ride to the festivities.

There are several new events and activities at OTC on Ice this year, including a Special Olympics Polar Plunge presented by Law Enforcement on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 12 p.m. This activity will still take place on Otter Tail Lake since it can be executed with small vehicles and only requires foot traffic.

"Our goal is to have 300 plungers and raise $40,000 for Special Olympics," Osberg said. "The good news is we already have over 150 plungers registered and have raised over $26,000."

Osberg added that you don't have to jump in the water to participate. You can be a "virtual" plunger or pledge to support someone else who is plunging. You can visit http://www.plungemn.org/events/otter-tail/ to sign up or donate.

An online fishing derby throughout Otter Tail County from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1 will also join the festivities of OTC on Ice this year. The rewards include over $3,000 in cash and prizes, according to an Otter Tail Lakes Country Facebook post. 
Submitted photo
An online fishing derby throughout Otter Tail County from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1 will also join the festivities of OTC on Ice this year. The rewards include over $3,000 in cash and prizes, according to an Otter Tail Lakes Country Facebook post. Submitted photo

A week-long online fishing derby is another new event, where anglers can fish any body of water in Otter Tail County from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1. To enter, contestants need to download the Fish Donkey mobile app on their phone and pay a $10 fee. Prizes will be awarded to the four longest fish in these categories: walleye, northern pike, bluegill and crappie. Every walleye entered into the contest through Fish Donkey will be eligible for the Wild Card Walleye and could win $500 cash.

Other activities include a bean bag tournament put on by LAKE LIFE WKND and a snowmobile trail ride led by the Otter Trail Snowmobile Riders Club.

Tickets for the two-day music portion of OTC on Ice are on sale for $40 at www.otconice.com. Single day tickets will be available at the gate if the show isn't sold out.