Officials in Zearing are gearing up for the third annual Dakins Lake Ice Fishing Derby, planned to take place on Feb. 10.


David Skinner, a member of the Zearing Volunteer Fire Department and a key organizer of the event, said a lot of entities come together to make the derby a success.


“The Zearing Fire Department has merged with Story County Conservation board, Zearing EMS and over 40 business sponsors,” he said. “Zearing has a great resource at our doorstep with the new Dakins Lake expansion.”


In the first two years, the Derby has helped support ice rescue gear for the fire department, which is important with a lake sitting at the north edge of their town, and a new scoreboard for the town’s Veterans Memorial Ballfield.


“The Zearing Fire Department is more than a protector of the community,” Skinner said. “We are part of it and we offer several outreach events during the year to help support the people who live, work and visit Zearing. I hope we can keep this (fishing) event going in the future and help out other organizations in need.”


This year, funds raised by the derby will be used to offset the cost of a new rescue gear trailer for the fire department. The trailer will be used to house grain bin rescue gear, ice and cold-water rescue gear, and fire and rescue equipment.


Based on its first two years, those planning the event expect it could grow in number of participants in 2018. The first event in 2016 brought in 150 participants, and raised over $2,000. The 2017 event brought in 260 participants, raising over $5,000.


At the writing of this story, the fishing derby was exactly 17 days out, and weather forecasts were showing warmer temperatures on the horizon. Skinner said that’s one thing about trying to plan an ice derby in Iowa — “you just never know (about the weather). We just need to cross our fingers,” he said.


“We will monitor the ice conditions with the Iowa DNR and Story County Conservation board. If the ice is deemed unsafe for the event, we would have to cancel,” he said. “The original ice base before this warm spell was over 12 inches. We would like to have 8 to 10 inches of good ice across the entire lake for the event. We did rope off an area of the lake last year by the outlet that was a concern.”


Hopefully, the weather will stay cold enough to keep the ice thick.


Any businesses or people who would like to help sponsor this year’s event should call Skinner at 515-290-3478.


Those wishing to participate should go online to: www.zearingiowa.net, where you will see a place to click on ice derby “forms” at the top of the page. The entry fee is $10 per person.