The Iola Winter Carnival has selected its 2014 court.
The court includes Mariah Oppor, Karina Welch, Emily Sether and Kjersti Aasen.
All four are seniors at Iola-Scandinavia High School.
The Queen of the Snows will be crowned at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at Iola-Scandinavia High School.
Kjersti Aasen is the daughter of Donald and Christine Aasen, of Iola.
“Winter Carnival is an amazing tradition that I am so proud to be a part of each and every year,” she said.
“I love participating in everything I possibly can, and volunteering all the hours I can to help the workers who put their whole days and lives into making the carnival run smoothly every single year,” she said.
A member of Iola Winter Sports Club since she could ski, Aasen has helped as a hill marker on the big jumps. She registers skiers and ski jumpers at Norseman Hill during the Iola Winter Carnival.
“Last year I was promoted to running the judge’s scores down the hills to the clubhouse and back up the hill,” she said. “I loved it.”
Aasen said Winter Carnival means more to her than a fun weekend and participating in local traditions.
“Since I was a little girl I had always looked up to the princesses and the queens, dreaming of the day I would be one of them. As I grew up, it became more exciting, just knowing how close I was getting to my dream,” Aasen said.
Aasen’s extracurricular activities and honors include serving on Student Council, volunteering at church, and earning a varsity letter in softball and volleyball.
Mariah Oppor is the daughter of Jeff Oppor, of Iola.
“The Winter Carnival is a great community tradition because it keeps our heritage in tack. As the world becomes more and more modernized, it’s easy to lose sight of where we actually came from,” she said.
“Standing in the snow, all bundled up in jackets, hats, scarves, mittens and boots, taking in the cold as the skiers do, makes you appreciate their talents,” Oppor said. “To experience the strength and agility of a ski jumper in person cannot compare to looking at pictures of it online.”
Some of her favorite childhood memories were of making lefse with her family.
“In every culture, recipes are passed on from generation to generation,” she said. “The Lutefisk Supper bonds our community together with traditional food and friendly Norwegian hospitality.”
Her extracurricular activities and honors include being named to the High Honors list, receiving a varsity letter in softball while still a freshman, secretary of Student Council, National Honor Society, ISHS Band, and participating in district and state Solo-Ensemble.
She has worked at the Iola Millstone for almost two years and especially enjoys hearing stories from “back in the old days.”
“I can’t help but be intrigued by how much Iola has changed over the years,” she said. “Hearing these stories has showed me that it is important to appreciate the elderly members of our community and all that they have done for us.”
For the past two summers she has volunteered to help cognitively disabled children at the Wisconsin Lions Camp in Rosholt.
“From the beginning, I had made a connection with these girls,” she said. “Not only did they open my eyes to the importance to volunteering, it also opened the door of a possible career in special education for me.”
The daughter of Mark and Sarah Sether, of Iola, Emily Ann Sether believes the Winter Carnival is a great opportunity to bring family and friends together and enjoy an event that is not solely based on competition, but sharing a unique heritage.
“After learning to cross country ski and ski jump at a very young age, I don’t remember a year that I wasn’t at the hill the first weekend every February,” Sether said.
When she was no longer able to compete, she helped as a hill marker. She has participated in the ice sculpting, helped with the children’s ice fishing tournament (cancelled this year due to the recent drawdown of Lake Iola) and served at the Lutefisk Supper.
“Having these experiences gave me an appreciation for what our small town has to offer to all ages in one great event,” she said. “I believe it is especially important to involve younger generations, so that they can grow up appreciating these traditions.”
Sether’s extracurricular activities include Student Council, serving as Senior Class secretary and Leos Club president, basketball, drum major for the ISHS Marching Band, Polka Band, Chorus, Spanish Club, basketball, cross country MVP four times and qualifying for state three times, track MVP, captain and state qualifier, and high school bowling state qualifier twice.
She has volunteered at the Iola Winter Carnival, Iola Old Car Show, Scandinavia Corn Roast, Leo’s Make a Difference Day, and National Honor Society volunteer days.
Karina Welch is the daughter of Tim and Mary Welch, of Iola.
“Winter Carnival is a valuable tradition that honors the Norwegian culture,” she said. “Everyone is able to take part in an abundance of activities, starting with the very Lutefisk Supper to the ice sculptures, craft sale, snowshoe and cross country races, as well as ski jumping, where the competitors are able to utilize one of the finest ski jumping facilities in the state.
“My Norwegian culture is a part of me that will never fade,” she said.
Her extracurricular activities include Student Council, National Honor Society vice president, class vice president, and serving as captain of the varsity softball and basketball teams.
Her volunteer activities include Little T-Birds, I-S Recreation Association softball coach, and being active at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
Her other honors include World Affairs Seminar delegate, head lifeguard, and being accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and UW-LaCrosse to study special education and elementary education.
Iola Winter Carnival activities
The 53rd Iola Winter Carnival will be held Feb. 1-2.
Activities on Saturday, Feb. 1, include:
• Ice sculpting, 8 a.m. to noon, corner of State Street and Chet Krause Drive in downtown Iola.
• Norwegian Lutefisk Supper and Indoor Craft Sale, 1-6:30 p.m., Iola-Scandinavia High School.
• Skijoring, 3 p.m., Iola Winter Sports Club, County Road MM.
• Iola Twilight Snowshoe Race, 6 p.m., Iola Winter Sports Club.
The Central Ski Jumping Championships will begin at noon on Sunday, Feb. 2, on Norseman Hill at the Iola Winter Sports Club.
The raffle drawing will also be held on Sunday following the awards ceremony at the Iola Winter Sports Club. Raffle tickets are $2 each or three for $5, and may be purchased at area businesses.
The grand prize is $1,000 cash, with numerous other prizes awarded.
The annual event is sponsored by the Iola Winter Sports Club, American Legion Sheveland-Taylor Post 14, Iola Lions Club and Iola Lioness Club.
For more information, call 715-445-4005 or visit www.iolawintesportsclub.org.