After a three weeks of wait, Long Lake is finally ready to host some winter time fun.

The first ever Long Lake Winter Fest fundraiser for Barron County homeless shelter Benjamin’s House is Saturday, on the ice in front of the The Landing on Long Lake.

There will be ice fishing, snowshoe relays, raffle prizes, food and drink, music and more.

“Not only is it a fun outdoor activity during the time of COVID — if you can be outside and you can social distance, you can enjoy some great weather and some fun opportunities — but also a huge opportunity to support those that are in need,” said Lori Zahrbock, Benjamin’s House Executive Director.

The event was previously scheduled for Feb. 6, but was postponed because of the brutal cold that was in store that weekend. Although it was difficult to postpone an event that had so much planning already in place, Zahrbock said, many people were supportive of moving the date.

“It’s always difficult to postpone an event but we realized that northern Wisconsin people know that weather plays a big factor in what we do,” she said. “So most people were really happy that we moved it, and we’re looking forward to having a really nice winter weekend this upcoming Saturday.”

Registration for ice fishing begins at 8:30 a.m. with fishing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Entry into the contest is $20, with $500 awarded for the largest walleye, bass and pike. The largest fish overall has a prize of $1,000. Kids 12 and under can fish for free with prizes awarded for every fish caught.

There is no fee to join in on the snowshoe relay, although participants are asked to register online for a time slot. Relays will occur from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Raffle prizes include a 50-inch TV, pontoon rental on Long Lake, a Yamaha 2000-watt generator and more.

The event is co-sponsored by Medical Staffing Solutions and Northwest Builders. All proceeds go to funding for Benjamin’s House, a homeless shelter that serves Barron County and beyond by providing more than just a place to stay each night.

“You may not see homeless people in our streets, but we do have plenty of homeless people in Barron County,” Zahrbock said. “We reach beyond the borders of Barron County as well. We don’t just provide shelter, we also provide case management, and we connect people to resources and really give them the opportunity to work on any issues that may be causing the homelessness, or may be causing them to not be able to find success.”

For more information on Winter Fest or Benjamin’s House visit benjamins-house.org.

Zahrbock said the event came to fruition as a group of volunteers around Long Lake expanded a neighborhood ice fishing contest to a winter festival that the whole community can enjoy.

“I’m really grateful for the people up on Long Lake that have found a need,” Zahrbock said. “This is going to be an opportunity to be a win-win, an opportunity to be outside and do something fun in the winter, but then also feel good about doing it.”

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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