Fanny Freeze on Fatbikes

2015-01-24 15.10.40 2015-01-24 15.10.46 2015-01-24 15.10.55 2015-01-24 15.17.13 2015-01-24 15.35.31 2015-01-24 15.35.49The view outside the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji, Iowa, is one of snow covered marsh and grassland between the nature center and the gracious homes on the other side. In that terrain, there is a 1 kilometer lap that sends riders through snow, sand, rocks and grass, and up and down hills.

“Last year there were a lot more hills,” said Matt Matthiesen of West O Beer Co., the official beer sponsor of the Frozen Fanny Fat Bike Challenge. Cyclists and spectators were well supplied with beer, hot cocoa, hot cider and pulled pork barbecue sandwiches as the wind whipped through the frozen grasslands.

Thirty-eight participants rode their fat bikes (with tire widths of at least 2.5 inches, most 3 inches or a bit more) through the course, some after a morning spent on the 16 mile Freeze Your Fanny on the roads and streets of Okoboji.

“I think it’s true that you first freeze the fanny in the morning, then your pre-frozen fanny has a better time on the rough riding afternoon event,” according to Milford attorney Barry Sackett, who took on both bike-freeze events for the fifth time this year. More often a marathon runner, Sackett, 45, challenges himself every year he’s in town for the winter games.

The 34th Annual Okoboji Winter Games began as a bare-bones broom ball tournament on East Lake Okoboji, fueled by abundant beer and hot toddies. Over the years it has grown to include eight “cheerleaders” chosen from the chambers of commerce and commercial clubs of the beach towns that make up Okoboji. Businesses and organizations sponsor everything from cribbage tournaments to mass games of bingo, broomball, and the polar plunge into the lake with EMTs standing by and a warming house right on the ice.

This year’s festivities were altered slightly in location as warm January temperatures after an initial arctic blast made the ice unstable.

Cyclists (all male this year, though women have participated int the past) navigated the snow and rocks of the Frozen Fanny course with aplomb. Oohs rang up from the sparse crowd of spectators upon the occasional spillout. The riders continued the course for 90 minutes or as long as they could hold out. The rider with the most laps in that time, this year Sam Kendall of Jackson, Minnesota, is declared the champion.

Kendall rode in the 31-40 age category and this is his second win in the last decade. “Endurance is the key,” Kendall said. “When you don’t think you can pedal any more, you just do. I don’t have a secret, or really any particular athletic prowess other than that.”

Do you want to build a snowman? Okoboji Winter Games roll into 35th year January 23-25.

The Okoboji region of northwest Iowa shivers into such frigid temperatures in January, many consider hibernating throughout the winter. Isolation doesn’t warm the soul, however. For this reason, the University of Okoboji, a charitable group behind the fictional college of recreation, created the Winter Games.

“When I came to the 2012 Winter Games, I thought Okoboji was a frozen hellhole,” Taylor Wetzel of Pittsburgh admitted of her first visit to the weekend of events.

The moody winter weather in 2015 has caused variable ice conditions. Traditionally the broom ball tournament, beanbag tournament and snow softball tournament are all held on the icy surface of East Lake Okoboji. This year, however, chair Alison Schmitz says the uncertain ice conditions caused by December and January temperatures varying from 60 degrees to 28 below zero create a hazard. “The winter games are just that — games,” Schmitz said. “Safety is of utmost importance, always.”

The flag football tournament will still be held at the property of Parks Marina, but has also been moved off the ice in favor of playing in the Parks Marina outdoor mezzanine, which will be stocked with new snow.

The Okoboji police department also issues a reminder that Winter Games athletes and spectators should keep all vehicles off the ice around the State Pier as this is where the Polar Bear Plunge will take place at 3 pm Saturday, January 24 in Arnolds Park.

courtesy of University of Okoboji
courtesy of University of Okoboji

Be a Showrunner: 10 Steps to Creating a Compelling Fictional Web Show

Have you ever watched a popular TV series and thought, “I would do this so much better?” Do you have a workplace like “The Office” or “Grey’s Anatomy,” or a family like “Modern Family” that you’d just love to emulate for YouTube? Maybe you think launching your own show is beyond your capabilities. It’s true you shouldn’t try to do it alone, and of course you need cast members, lighters, and possibly a director. It also takes some money to make it happen. If you have an idea that keeps you up at night, it’s time to start bringing your idea to life.

1. They say to write what you know. This is good advice, but it doesn’t mean your work has to be a reality show. Blair Tindall spent the ‘80s as a principal oboist in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. She wrote about the hot, behind the scenes partying and her memories became the web series, “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music.” The Hulu hit “East Los High” grew from its creators’ experiences in high school in the barrios of Los Angeles.

2. Watch shows you enjoy and take note of what they do right.

3. Write scripts for your episodes. “East Los High Episodes” are about 12 minutes each. “Amazon in the Jungle” dropped all of its episodes at once, just before Christmas.

4. Go to eBay and other outlets to find camera equipment, or it may be more affordable to find a digital cinematographer to work with you. Place ads on filmmaker groups on Facebook, on Craigslist, on Backpage, and on other local ad sites. Network through your friends — someone who comes with a recommendation is better than a total stranger. Interview potential camera operators and ensure they share your vision for the show and have time in their schedule to work with you.

5. Hold auditions for cast members. Many cities have a casting site like NYcastings and CastingPitt. Again, you can go through ad sites and Facebook pages, and put up flyers in coffee houses and local theaters. You can often rent a room in a community theater or public center like the library for free or nearly free. Ask actors for their resumes and head shots and have callbacks where various actors can read from the script together to gauge the onscreen chemistry. Post the cast list on social media and contact the new cast members about the  rehearsal and shooting schedule.

6. Set a budget. Some of this should have been done earlier, but often it’s when the show is cast that you have a concept of exactly what you need to make the show happen — costumes, the cost of access to locations, and paying actors and crew for their time. Don’t forget to pay yourself.

7. Crowdfund. It may seem counterintuitive to raise money this late in the game. However, with the cinematographer and cast on board, now you can create a 2-3 minute

promotional video.

8. Seek sponsors: “Mozart in the Jungle” is about classical music; potential interested sponsors would include the makers of musical instruments, music stores, and classical music venues. “East Los High” features Justin and Maya working at Justin’s family’s restaurant and creating fresh, Mexican fusion dishes. Potential sponsors include fresh food wholesalers, the makers of kitchen equipment, and possibly a chain of restaurants like Chipotle. Who are the natural sponsors for your show?

9. Shoot the pilot episode: By now the cast and crew should be beyond excited to shoot the first episode. The locations are secured and scouted, the cast is rehearsed and confident. Step back and let the actors do their stuff. From the footage you create, gather the very best moments and string together a pilot that will draw in the audience, pack a punch and leave them clamoring for more.

10. Make the airing of the pilot a big event: Whether you have space on Yahoo! Screen, Amazon, Hulu, or you’re just uploading your episodes to YouTube or Vimeo, create an event on Facebook, encourage the cast and crew and your mom to Tweet their excitement about the pilot, release clips on social media, publicly tweet to your fans and sponsors, and invite all your contacts to like your Facebook page.

Creating a web series is a lot of work, but with persistence and a workable plan, it is far less daunting than getting a series on network TV or producing a feature film. If you create a compelling show and develop an eager audience, you might just catch the eye of a prominent producer who will take your show to the big time.

Mozart in the Jungle:

Watch here:

East Los High: