By Christy Riggs
Published in The Burg July 15, 2021
Who’s heard of Lake Okoboji? Who can correctly pronounce Okoboji? If you answered “yes/me” to either? You are privy to a blue lake paradise.
My grandmother is originally from Emmetsburg, Iowa, and my late grandfather is from Tracy, Minnesota. They had 10 children; my mom is #7. Naturally all of our family gatherings are large. In 1996, the family and extended family celebrated grandma and grandpa’s 50th wedding anniversary up in Okoboji, Iowa. We stayed at a resort on the lake front, Fillenwarth Beach, and celebrated at a restaurant called “Yesterdays”. This is where it all started….
Since 1996, every Father’s Day week, my family, my extended family, their kids, and their kids, and their kids make the trek to “Boji”. Did I mention this resort is pet friendly? Several of us bring our dogs! For my immediate family, it’s about a 6.5 hour drive. This year we added a 100 pound female lab in the truck. (Note to self for next year: She doesn’t like rumble strips!) This is a week EVERYONE looks forward to. Who can be with their family and extended family in close proximity for 7 days every year for the past 25 years? This family can and there really aren’t any issues, unless perhaps politics are brought up. Lol.
We always stay at Fillenwarth Beach Resort on West Lake Okoboji. Our rooms are right next to each other and we all share a large patio that overlooks the lake. Each night one family arranges dinner for our group. My parents’ night is ALWAYS Godfather’s Pizza which is a favorite! My sister and I provide side dishes. There are grills available on the patio also.
A typical day starts off with coffee and breakfast, visiting and enjoying the view from the patio. There’s a bike/walk path, shops galore, restaurants and bars (all within walking distance), boating, jet skiing (my son’s favorite), fishing, swimming, an amusement park named “Arnold’s Park” right next to us complete with a Ferris wheel, go karts, log ride and original wooden rollercoaster. (Yes I’ve ridden the rollercoaster!) Did I mention there are SPECTACULAR sunsets and we clap each night when the sun goes down? This year we also had a first, a wedding. One of my cousins got married on the beach and a reception followed on a tiki boat.
“Family is everything” is an understatement!! I am grateful to have a week of sun and relaxation surrounded by my family. It’s the safest, most comforting way to spend time away from home. At this point, it’s our home away from home indeed. Grandpa has been gone for several years now and we are lucky my grandma still makes the trip at 92! This family is already looking forward to next year…but that’s nothing new.
(Christy is an Abingdon native who has lived in The Burg for over 25 years. She is a Patient Advocate for OSF Healthcare and resides with her husband, and her two children)