Frozen Chosen Gets An Emmy

“The Frozen Chosen,” a documentary about sturgeon spearing on Lake Winnebago, took home an Emmy in the category of “cultural documentary” at the Chicago/Midwest Chapter: National Academy of Television Arts awards ceremony this past weekend. Produced and directed by five-time, Emmy award-winning filmmaker and Wisconsin native, Steve Boettcher, “The Frozen Chosen” has aired extensively on PBS stations in the Midwest, including Milwaukee and Chicago.

             “It’s an honor to win this award,” says Boettcher.  “What I’m really proud of is that this is a Wisconsin story. The Sturgeon Spearing season is a great tradition in our state with great people involved!”

            Boettcher spent two spearing seasons following local families and sturgeon spearing experts, sometimes braving sub-zero temperatures and thin ice.  He lost two cameras to water and cold, but filmed more than 75 hours of footage to make the one-hour documentary.  In the end, Boettcher says it was more than worth it.

            “Some days it felt like we were just surviving, but that’s part of the draw to the story and why the title, ‘The Frozen Chosen,’ is so fitting,” says Boettcher.  “Sturgeon spearing is just unique, it’s special and it’s so Wisconsin.”

            Fond du Lac, which bills itself as the “Sturgeon Spearing Capitol of the World,” was host to the world premiere of “The Frozen Chosen.” Sponsored by the Fond du Lac Visitors Bureau (FACVB), the film was released last February at the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts to kick off the 2014 sturgeon spearing season.

            “The sturgeon spearing phenomenon is entirely unique to the Lake Winnebago region,” says Craig Molitor, president of the FACVB.  “This award for Steve is so deserved. It clearly reflects the true family-friendly essence of the sport of sturgeon spearing, capturing the bravery and tenacity of the great folks who live here with real and honest story-telling.”

            “THELMA was proud to play a role in the world premiere of The Frozen Chosen, which so eloquently documented the unique spear fishing culture and traditions of Lake Winnebago,” added Kevin Miller, executive director at THELMA. “The fact that over 400 spear fishing enthusiasts attended an art house film première in Fond du Lac, and gave the film a big thumbs up means as much as any award.  Congrats to Mr. Boettcher on his tremendous film and accomplishment.”

            The 2015 sturgeon spearing season launches on Valentine’s Day, at the culmination of the 2015 WISSA World Ice and Snow Sailing Championship, Feb. 9 – 14. The storied ice race is a first for the Fond du Lac area.

            Opening weekend is filled with family activities including the “Sturgeon Stampede,” an annual festival offering skating, broomball, ice bowling, ice sailing and kite boarding will also be in full swing. There’s also plenty of food and beverages and a huge bonfire to cozy up to at the end of the day to watch this year’s 25th anniversary fireworks. The festival at is located on Lake Winnebago-Fisherman’s Road landing, which is 1/2 mile off the shore of Lake Winnebago, and six miles north of Highway 23, right off Highway 151.

           To purchase a copy of “The Frozen Chosen” or learn more about sturgeon spearing and all of the events taking place in the Fond du Lac area this winter, visit