Bring in the New Year Carp Fest-style

Bring in the New Year Carp Fest-style
By Jen Schultz
Lucky the Carp, probably one of the most well-known fish in Midwest, has been caught and is patiently waiting for his big day in Prairie du Chien on New Year’s Eve. This year will mark the eleventh anniversary of Carp Fest in Prairie du Chien. This year’s festivities will include the area’s largest music, entertainment and light show as well as the crowning of the 2012 Carp King and Queen and of course, the tradition of bringing good luck for the New Year by kissing Lucky’s lips.
“We’ve started a new tradition for an attraction during the winter,” says Scream Xtreme Organizer Nate Gilberts. At Lucky Park, now through New Year’s Eve, is a light display that includes coordinated music and Christmas lights. According to Gilberts, the light display is a smaller scale of what one might see at the Rotary Lights display in La Crosse. Plans are for the light display to grow over the years.
On New Year’s Eve, Scream Xtreme will be providing entertainment to help event-goers bring in the New Year. Twisted Vision, a DJ business offered through Scream Xtreme, will be playing ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and today’s hit music from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at Lucky Park. They’ll also include trivia questions, so event-goers should freshen up on events from 2011. Pyrotechnics will also be added to the program as well as a light show. A heated tent and a bonfire will be available for event-goers to stay toasty-warm.
“The last few years we’ve had between 2,500 and 3,000 people down at Lucky Park at the stroke of midnight,” says Carp Fest Organizer Tom Nelson. “It’s a unique way to celebrate the holidays.”
There are several other new activities added to Carp Fest this year, including a coloring contest, an adult lap swim/walking contest and a Carp Run/Walk.
According to Prairie du Chien Parks and Recreation Director Mike Ulrich, one of the new activities, the Lucky the Carp Coloring Contest brings an arts and crafts event to the eleventh annual Carp Fest activities. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to be creative and make Lucky look even more beautiful! Lucky the Carp drawings have been distributed throughout Prairie du Chien and are available on the city’s website as well as the Courier Press website, The contest began Monday and the deadline for entries is Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 4:30 p.m. The contest is open to all children and youth, 17 years old and under. Winners, in three age categories, will be announced on Dec. 21. Entries will be displayed at Hoffman Hall throughout the Carp Fest festivities.
Another contest that’s new this year is the adult lap swim/walking contest. From Dec. 26 through Dec. 29, swimmers and walkers alike can compete in recording the number of laps they do during their workouts at Hoffman Hall. The winners will be announced at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29.
“We’re really hoping this generates more people to get out and about between the holidays,” says Ulrich.
The third new addition to Carp Fest is a Carp Run/Walk to be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31 starting at Hoffman Hall. According to Ulrich, the 3.1 mile fun run/walk will be similar to the successful Turkey Trot held on Thanksgiving day.
Other activities for Carp Fest include several pool/gym activities at Hoffman Hall from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31; a bowling party at Timber Lanes on Tuesday, Dec. 27; a skate party and bonfire at Lochner Park on Wednesday, Dec. 28; the annual torchlight ski/hike/sledding at La Riviere Farm Park on Friday, Dec. 30; a youth ice fishing fun day on Saturday, Dec. 31; open kayaking and an open jam concert as well as hot air balloon rides on Saturday, Dec. 31.
For more information about Carp Fest events, call the Prairie du Chien Parks and Recreation Department at (608) 326-7207.

Feelin' Lucky

The following is an excerpt from an article found in The Courier Press, December 12, 2011.

These fine fishermen were feelin' lucky Wednesday afternoon and it paid off handsomely as they hauled in more than 3,800 pounds of carp from the Mississippi River in about an hour and a half (More)....

Gettin' Lucky 2011

Prairie du Chien...It would be quite a thrill to catch Lucky, a giant carp that will be lowered from a boom in Prairie du Chien on New Year's Eve. Thanks to Mike Valley, lifelong commercial fisherman and the owner of Valley Fish & Cheese in Prairie du Chien, three people will get to accompany him on Sunday, December 11, when he goes out on the Mississippi River with a 400 foot gill net to snare this year's honored fish. Persons are eligible if they make a $1.00 donation to the 'Droppin' of the Carp' committee, with all proceeds going to the event. The winners will be announced on December 10.

   Valley said, 'They really won't have to work but they can help make noise to scare the fish into the net."  What happens if he catches more than one carp?  "We'll pick out the fattest, best-looking carp to be Lucky.'  It's going to be the 'prettiest' fish, if a carp can be described as pretty. (Photo,left, from 2010)
   Just in case the river is frozen, there's a reserve plan....a carp is on ice in Valley's freezer.
     On a related note, the committee is accepting nominations for Carp King and Queen to preside over the festivities. "We try to keep ahead of that crystal ball thing they do in New York City," said Tom Nelson, the originator of the carp drop. The ten criteria for selection include someone who knows the local DNR warden by his first name and someone who has used a carp tail for a fan to cool off with.
   Nominations may be sent to Droppin of the Carp, Attn. Royalty Committee, 128 South Prairie Street, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821. The deadline is December 26.
With Permission by Norb Aschom-Prairie du Chien
A fun-filled event intent on bringing friends, family, and community together for the New Year! Proceeds going to Dropping the Carp Fund and City Park and Recreation Youth Enrichment/Hoffman Hall Activities.
Additional Information: Contact Prairie du Chien Tourist Info 1-800-732-1673 (