By Brenda Erdahl: Organizers are optimistic that this year’s Ice Fishing Derby on Maple Lake will go on as planned. With latest ice reports coming in at 17 ½ to 20 inches, conditions are looking better than they have in years for the 43rd annual event scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 3. That is good news to organizers who have had to postpone and ultimately cancel the contest the last two years because of unseasonably warm weather. “Last year I don’t think we got up to 16 inches. If you look at the weather, the last week of December was the third coldest on record,” event chairman Greg Thomes said. “We could hold this contest tomorrow if we wanted to.” Sponsored by the Maple Lake – Lake Property Owner’s Association, the Derby is the largest contest of its kind in Minnesota, attracting 7,500 to 10,000 people each year. It’s also one of the only derbies in the state where participants can use a fish house. Those planning to attend this year’s festivities can expect a few changes from years past; the first is extended hours. Instead of starting at 1 p.m., the contest will begin at noon. By 3 p.m., everyone must be in line to submit their final fish, Thomes said. To further spice things up, organizers have added a fish house decorating contest, sponsored by Thomes Insurance Group and Progressive Insurance. Entrants need to be registered at the Progressive Insurance tent by noon that day. The owner of the best decorated house will win $200 and the house voted second best will earn $100.
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