Family reunion of Olympic proportion

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From left are the champions of the Elsinger family Olympic games representing their teams: Andrew Spickerman, silver, Cheryl Steadman, gold, and Steve Elsinger, bronze. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

The festivities in Rio may have ended, but the Olympic spirit is still alive in one Guttenberg family. The Elsingers held their family reunion this summer with yet another unique, themed party that has come to characterize their gatherings. In attendance were Marge Elsinger of Guttenberg and her children, Gina Dahlstrom-Osburn, Steve Elsinger and Jody Dahlstrom of Guttenberg, Leslie Schmelzer and Angela Spickerman of Maquoketa, Renee Burns of Strawberry Point, Lonnie Dahlstrom of Dubuque, and Cheryl Steadman of Virgina, as well as honorary sibling Jenny Elsinger of Georgia and significant others, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

“My sister Cheryl is the organizer,” said Gina. “When she comes home from Virginia, it’s a big deal.” Cheryl Steadman is a seamstress, and thus costuming is a significant part of the themed parties.

The Elsingers have held reunions with themes like Christmas in July, where participants re-gifted family ‘heirlooms.’ “There was a bidding war for Dad’s famous long underwear that he accidentally wore to town once,” Gina chuckled. She reminisced about an “Extreme Patriotism” reunion, when prizes were awarded for the most patriotic outfit. This year, matriarch Marge Elsinger and her descendants formed teams to compete for the gold in a series of games.

A single tiki torch was lit and passed from golf cart to golf cart as it was carried across the highway and through a pasture, past longhorn cattle, skirting a cornfield and into the woods, lighting the bonfire at the family campground known as Prickly Rose Resort. 

Three teams entered the contest: The Steadman family as Team Bootyshorts were all in short shorts, tall socks, and sweatbands; The Spickerman and Osburn families as The Spickermaniacs in green and white; and Marge with two granddaughters and their boyfriends as Mongo’s Team, clad in dirty t-shirts.

The games began with a competition in bags, the classic Iowa sport in which teams of two toss bags filled with dried beans or corn into a small hole in a wooden board from dozens of feet away. 

Teams also played washer toss, an Elsinger family favorite where large washers are flipped from a great distance toward a box with a cup inside and points are awarded depending on where the washers land. “Mom is very competitive when it comes to washer toss,” Gina  explained, also noting that the family has a set of glow-in-the-dark washers so they can play late into the night. 

A set of large yard dice was tossed for the third event. “And there was food, which could be considered an Olympic event in itself,” Gina laughed.

When all was said and done, The Spickermaniacs came out on top. Medals were awarded for first, second and third place, and hefty medals they were. Charger plates in gold, silver and bronze were hung over the necks of the family’s champion athletes, who stood atop stumps instead of on a podium. The silver medal was awarded to Team Bootyshorts, and Mongo’s Team won bronze.

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