Fun on the Flowage brings old tradition back to life in Prairie Farm

PRAIRIE FARM, Wis. (WEAU) -- After decades of sitting in a museum, locals in Barron County have pulled out the equipment to once again cut ice on the flowage in Prairie Farm. The Lions Club is hoping the old tradition will spark interest for their special cause.

It may have been cold outside but dozens of people still came to have some fun on the flowage and see a little piece of history come to life. “The saw and the elevator hasn't been used since 1994, prior to that it wasn't used since late 70s or early 80s,” said Bart Gosnell, an organizer.

The ice cutting equipment has been on display at the Pioneer Village Museum in Cameron, until now. "When you hear it run again like it did 35 years ago, boy this is just a great day,” said Wayne Norberg, an ice cutter. Back in the 1970s and 80s, locals would come out on the flowage to cut ice to later use at summer festivals when ice wasn't readily available.

"It's kind of mesmerizing what they had to do and all the work they had to put in back then to have this,” said 12-year-old John Norberg who was helping his dad and grandpa cut the ice. They were using the same equipment and the same method with only a few updates. "We lay out a gridline and then we could cut them with handsaws but since its 2019 we're going to use chainsaws,” Gosnell said.

They are bringing back the ice cutting tradition back to help raise funds for the flowage. “When I was a kid back in the 80s we had water skiing and a nice swimming beach where people would fish,” Gosnell added. “But it's silted in so we are raising funds today to get dredged out."

The Prairie Farm Lions club hosted the inaugural fun on the flowage to spark interest on their new project. "I thought what the heck; let's retake the lake,” Gosnell said.

They are raising funds for a cause all while spending some quality family time by making the old pastime a new tradition on the flowage.