The Stage at Stieger Lake

Before fish and family fun begins at the annual ice fishing contest in Victoria each February, the stage at Stieger Lake is set and ready to accommodate all visitors, thanks to the Victoria Fire Department.

A thousand holes are drilled in the ice, anticipating up to 1,000 visitors.

The weigh station is prepared for all catches of the afternoon.  Firefighter Andrew Holzerland recorded names of fishermen and the size and type of fish caught.  Inside the trailer, next to the table with the scale, holes are drilled in the ice floor where fish are sent packing after they’re weighed.  Stieger is a catch and release lake.

The food tent is equipped with roasters and servers and hot soup.  Most of the food was provided by Zdoba.  Hotdogs and chili were also available.

Working in the food tent (l-r):  Kate Nordeen (daughter of Firefighter Jeff Nordeen and his wife Kari), Firefighter Trenton Klos, Firefighter Dusty Anderson, Sydney Hardek (daughter of Firefighter Steve Hardek), and Firefighter Thomas Erdmann.

Porta potties are strategically arranged and dozens of prizes are gathered for the drawings.  It’s no small matter to set the stage at Stieger.

Firefighter Rick Leuthner, left, commented that they didn’t have to snowplow the lake this year because it wasn’t blown over or blanketed with snow.  It saved the Department a lot of preliminary work.  That’s Daryl Schmieg on the right.

Victoria firefighters also arrange for parking near the lake, some along the entrance road and nearby lot.

They also provide transportation to the lake via trailers and school buses back and forth from downtown locations.

All the world’s a stage and all the men and women are merely players.

Firefighter Ryan Thayer drove the six-wheeler that the Fire Department calls “Grass 12.”  It’s used for grass fires in the summer.  The trailer was used to haul fishermen and equipment.  In the summer it’s used to haul the Grass 12.

Firefighter Russ Wall directed traffic on the shores of Stieger Lake. 

The lake is mainly for people.  Most vehicles are parked off shore.

This year the stage at Stieger sported a sunny and warm 25 degrees with no wind.  Notice the flag.

It was perfect, in fact, on Sunday, February 5th, for visitors but not so good for fishing.

Only one big predator fish was caught, a northern that awarded Mike Mulheran of Victoria the power ice auger.  Fire Chief Andrew Heger estimated that 800 to 1,000 people were on stage at Stieger this year.

Victoria firefighters come color-coordinated (l-r):  Mat VonBank, Brady Lee, Jon Diethelm, Rod Simonson.  Mat and Brady are both employed in the Victoria Public Works Department.  Mat, Jon, and Rod worked the Ice Golf Game this year where tennis balls and a golf club entertain kids and adults.  This year Clayton Mechtel, son of Bob and Aleta, hit a Hole in One and was awarded a $20 prize.

Jessica Heger, left, wife of Chief Andrew Heger, and Alison Holzerland, wife of Firefighter Andrew Holzerland, worked in the Food Ticket Trailer.

The annual photo of the annual group at the annual Victoria Ice Fishing Contest, this one from 2017.  The people with asterisks* in front of their names are cousins on the Victoria Schneider tree from the siblings John Schneider, Hilda (Schneider) Wartman, and Matt Schneider -- who would be the grandparents or great aunt or great uncle of the cousins.  Thank you, Mike Wartman, for the precise relative connections..

Front (kneeling, l-r): *Paul Jesbserg, *Mike Wartman, *Lee Schneider, *Betty Jesberg Laska, Anthony Laska.

Back:  Missy King, Cully Keratzke, *Dan Schneider, Jeff Chapman, *Randy Schneider, Jim Laska, *Mark Jesberg.

Children from the Schmieg clan enjoyed each other at Vic’s Bar and Grill.  Back (l-r):  Brian Schmieg, Josh and Tanya Schmieg, Jason Schmieg, Jason and Becky Schmieg Kamrath.  Front:  Ashlyn Schmieg, Taylan Kamrath, Tyler Schmieg,  Jaycee Kamrath.

Barb Schmieg Radde of Waconia and Al Orsen of Victoria, graciously oblige the camera.

Scott Roberts of Edina and his two daughters Vanessa, 12 (seated), and Bridgette, 10, have been going to the Fishing Contest for the last five years.  "We really enjoy ice fishing." said Scott.  "The contest has helped get my kids hooked on fishing.  It helps to have the food vendors on the ice, and the door prizes help keep the kids entertained when the fish are not biting.  The kids and I enjoyed the added golf contest this year.  Everyone from the bus drivers to the firefighters are great.  We did not catch any fish this year, but we have had good luck in the past.  The kids already plan on going next year.  It's a great time and they always look forward to warming up with cheese curds and root beer at Vic's after the contest."  Scott and his wife are expecting their fifth child.

Tom Schremp of Victoria is in the camo on the left.  The little boy is Kieran Stevens.  On the right is Ryan Lowe of Victoria.

With Editor Sue.  Brad Gulden (in the camo on the left) is a former Major League Baseball Player who  played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, and San Francisco Giants.  He lives in Carver and is a neighbor of Jerry Hartman.  On the right is Bruce Gulden, brother of Brad, who lives in Chaska and is most likely famous for other good reasons.