Iola hosts Winter Carnival
Event starts Feb. 2
By Holly Neumann
A weekend of ski jumping, fat tire bike races, skijoring and family activities will take place Friday through Sunday, Feb. 2-4, when the 57th annual Winter Carnival comes to Iola.
The event also features the Norwegian Lutefisk Supper slated from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3, at Iola-Scandinavia High School.
The dinner will include homemade Norwegian meatballs, cod, lutefisk with drawn butter, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberries, coleslaw, lefse, and a variety of Norwegian pastries and homemade desserts.
“Lutefisk, dried cod treated with lye, must surely be the strangest culinary effort credited to the Norwegians, but what a treat when prepared properly,” said Mike Mazemke, who heads the event. “Everyone of course is not a devotee of lutefisk, but those who are defend it vehemently.”
Alf Syvertsen has been coming to the dinner for more than 40 years.
“I eat lutefisk once a year,” he said. “I like it. It’s different from any other taste.”
He believes that the Iola has the best lutefisk around.
“I love it too,” said Scott Wabush. “I have been coming to Iola for years just to have the dinner. “After all what’s not to like. You butter up some lefse, add some lutefisk and that it simply amazing.”
Mazemke added that others go to the opposite extreme and claim it’s a national disgrace.
Marge Treloar wrinkles her nose at the idea of eating lutefisk.
“I have had the cod and meatball and a lot of the pastries,” she said. “But I cannot stand the smell of the lutefisk.”
“Pass,” said Dawn Gutchow. “The texture of it just does not go down well at all.”
During the dinner, the cooks can even be seen singing about the delicacy.
The song, “Oh Lutefisk,” by Red Stangeland with the last verse by Robert L. Lee, even leaves guests wondering about the taste:
“Lutefisk, Oh lutefisk, how fragrant your aroma. Oh lutefisk, Oh lutefisk, You put me, in a coma.”
“Whether you come alone or with family be prepared to enjoy fine food and pastries, good conversation an endless supply of coffee,” Mazemke said.
According to Mazemke, tradition alone is what makes this event so successful.
“This event is incredible, if I had to guess it takes about 400 volunteers to make this happen,” he said. “From watching the ladies hand roll meatballs to seeing generations of families working together, this is a big deal.”
Mazemke himself has helped cooked the lutefisk and has a few memories of his own.
“Leonard Haroldson helps us cook and every year he tells us this is the best lutefisk we have ever had,” he laughed. “So this year, it should be amazing.”
Cost of attending the Norwegian Lutefisk Supper is $14 for adults and $5 for those 10 and under.
“I hope everyone enjoys the meal,” said Mazemke. “But more than anything, this is about the people. I hope they all walk away with a smile on their face and fond memories from a day spent in Iola.”
The weekend will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, with the Iola Snow Bully Fat Tire Bike Race at the Iola Winter Sports Club.
Other weekend events include the following:
Saturday, Feb. 3
8 a.m.to noon – Ice Sculpting at the Iola-Scandinavia High School.
9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Free Children’s Ice Fishing Contest.
1 p.m.to 6 p.m. – Norwegian Lutefisk Supper and Indoor Craft Sale at Iola-Scandinavia High School.
1 p.m. – Skijoring at the Iola Winter Sports Club.
3 p.m. – Crowning of the Queen of Snows at Iola-Scandinavia High School.
6 p.m. – Iola Twilight Snowshoe Race.
Sunday, Feb. 4
Noon – Central Ski Jumping Championships.