Weekend Outlook: Winter Festivals, Fetes, and Chilling Polar Plunges

There are leaders, there are followers, and then there are those who will jump into a frozen lake in the middle of winter because someone dared them to. 

While I would like to consider myself somewhat of a forerunner—ever since my fearless elementary school days where I volunteered to be first at the chalkboard, baseline, or really any line, even if I didn’t know what was coming—today, I’m ruled by common sense. Might I learn something by watching? Does haste make waste?

But if you dared me to participate in a polar plunge? Absolutely! I have my honor to defend, after all.

This Saturday is the next ice-cold jump (with others coming later this winter) in support of Special Olympics Minnesota athletes, and I have to admit, I’ve always been intrigued. At almost 40 degrees today and a supposed 30 on Saturday, this is the time to do it! Or at least watch the crazies in costumes walk the plank.

But if you’re feeling yellow, it’s really a winter weekend to rival them all, what with the start of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the wrap-up of the Bemidji Mrrrrmidji Polar Daze, and a long list of other options:

Polar PlungeJan. 28, 2012

Polar Bear Pluge
White Bear Lake and Willmar/Spicer, Minn.
Presented by Minnesota law enforcement as part of their year-round Law Enforcement Torch Run® events, it’s a great opportunity to raise funds for Special Olympics Minnesota athletes, while of course jumping into frigid Minnesota waters. plungemn.org

12th Annual Snow Day
Wargo Nature Center, Lino Lakes, Minn.
All ages are welcome to go snowshoeing, ice fishing, kick-sledding, cross-country skiing or winter crafts and more. This is a free event. For more info, call Wargo Nature Center at 651-429-8007.

Fridley Commons Park and the Fridley Community Center. Fridley, Minn. / 1-4 p.m.
A great winter afternoon perfect for the family: hay rides, dog sled rides, ice and carnival games, and snowball launching, sweet treats, a medallion hunt, bonfire, and more. ci.fridley.mn.us/winterfest

Jennie Guyer Ice Fishing Tournament
Trout Lake in Coleraine, Minn. / 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Try your hand at this ice fishing contest on Trout Lake with a simple $5 entry fee. Concessions, raffle, silent and live auction included at Coleraine Fire Hall.

Jan. 21-29, 2012

10th Annual Winter Fete
Bloomington, Minn.
Enjoy city-wide free activities, including Friday’s hockey exhibitions, Saturday broomball tournament, ski jumping and Ice Harvest Festival, plus Sunday’s Pond Dakota Winter History Festival. ci.bloomington.mn.us/wntrfete

Jan. 25-29, 2012

Frozen River Film Festival
Winona, Minn.
This annual winter film festival features more than 40 documentary films, workshops, speakers, and musical performances, with the goal of engaging, educating, and encouraging people to become more involved in the world. frff.org

Jan. 27-29, 2012 (And Feb. 3-5, Feb. 10-12)

WinterFest 2012
Spicer, Minn.
The ice structure and slide couldn’t come through this year, but you can still celebrate winter with a pond hockey tournament, the plunge, snowmobile runs, evening dances and more community activities. Fundraiser for Special Olympics. spicermn.com

So go, get out, and enjoy winter!

I double-dog dare you.

Polar Plunge

 Plunge 2010. Photo by Tim Greer.