Frozen Frostival Fun

Jay Ray’s snow sculpture, “Ice Fishing,” took home top prize in last year’s Frostival contest. The theme of the third annual contest this year is “Winter Wonderland.” (Photo/MBA)

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

Moorhead is getting ready to put a happy face on winter, as the Frostival spotlight turns east of the river on Feb. 1–2 and again Saturday, Feb. 8. The rallying cry for the fifth annual citywide event, which began last weekend and runs through Feb. 22, is to “embrace the cool of winter.” For the duration, the community is declaring that “cold is cool.”
“Instead of just one weekend, the planning committee decided to spread it out this year,” says Sheri Larson, executive director of the Moorhead Business Association. The fifth year of the citywide festival began Jan. 15 with West Fargo Winter Days and wraps up Feb. 22 with Winter Trails Day at MB Johnson Park, an ice fishing derby at Woodhaven South Park and Pond in Fargo, and an outdoor volleyball tournament at Fargo Billiards. The festival is the work of the Moorhead, Fargo and West Fargo parks department, as well as the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the MBA and a variety of private businesses and organizations.
A good share of events planned for these days celebrate polar hardiness and red cheeks. But since the season is unpredictable, to put it mildly, a full slate of both indoor and outdoor opportunities are designed to tease residents and visitors to open their doors and their minds to the pleasures of the weather. As of this writing, Sheri notes the long-term forecast hints at starting February on the mild side, with temperatures in the 20s and no storms in sight. Nothing, however, is a sure bet this time of year. Witness the first weekend: Two of the first weekend’s big events, the Winter Boot Camp at West Fargo’s POW/MIA Plaza and cardboard sled races at Fargo’s Mickelson Park, had to be postponed … on account of weather. Both have been rescheduled for this Sunday.
While there’s clearly more than enough weather to go around the entire metropolitan area, the local celebration centers around two of Moorhead’s iconic sites, the Hjemkomst and Cullen Hockey Centers, as well as the river corridor and parks.
The tent-roofed Hjemkomst will be rechristened the Frozen Fortress for the duration. The headline event – the MBA’s annual snow sculpture contest – takes place in Viking Park outside the museum, where expert and beginning sculptors will turn 6- to 8-foot blocks of snow into original sculptures based on the theme of “Winter Wonderland.” Work begins Monday, Jan. 27, and must be completed by Friday. Visitors are invited to watch their progress, then vote on the winners in person and online from Feb. 1 through 7, with winners announced Feb. 8.
Harold’s on Main kicks off Moorhead’s big weekend with the very first event Friday, Jan. 31. The all-ages Winter Wonderland Mixer begins at 4 p.m. The one-year-old lounge on Main Avenue plans to offer mix of events for friends and family – s’mores and bonfires, craft projects for the kids, outdoor games, an ice bar with booze luge, music, food by Usher’s House, ax-throwing by Triple Ax, and karaoke indoors.
On Saturday, Feb. 1, the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County and Parks Department host a slate of activities indoors and out from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., among them free cross-county skis and snowshoe rentals, games indoors and out, hot chocolate, a marshmallow roast and more. River Keepers leads an interpretive snowshow hike along the river starting at 11 a.m. A local yoga instructor leads guests in “snowga,” an outdoor yoga session. Wear winter gear and boots – no bare feet at this yoga class! A high-energy dance party and workout for all ages is planned at 1 p.m., along with other entertainment.
The evening features the Snowball Dance and Carnival in the upstairs dance hall at Sunset Lanes. All ages are welcome; admission to the dance and carnival is $8.
The Cullen Hockey Center opens its doors – and its windows – for a free skate in the new Sanford Rink. Skates will also be provided for 4- through 10-year-olds, thanks to the Scott Tobolt Foundation. Food from Jay’s Smokin’ Barbecue will be available. The Winter Wonderland Free Skate runs from noon to 4 p.m.
At 1 that afternoon, hardy dog owners (and hardy dogs) will gather at Hotdog! Pet Salon and Nature of the North, 814 Center Ave., for the Winter Wonderland Dog Pack Walk along the Red River, followed by refreshments on their return … for their four-legged friends.
The following Saturday (Feb. 8) is tailored for those devoted to the active life outdoors. At MB Johnson Park, an outdoor round-robin kickball tournament is planned from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meanwhile, Woodlawn Park hosts the Ice Bowl Adult disc golf tournament. Competitors can register in four categories: amateur, advanced, master and pro.
Nature of the North and the American Legion Post 21 invite winter enthusiasts to trade and sell winter gear they may have stashed in the attic or garage. Their Winter Gear Swap is free to attend as well as to sell unneeded gear.
On the final day of the six-week Frostival, free snowshoe, skishoe and cross-country skiing lessons will be offered at MB Johnson Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Winter Trails Day is sponsored by the North Country Trail Association’s Dakota Prairie Chapter, NDSU’s Natural Resource Management Club, MSUM’s Regional Science Center, Moorhead Parks & Recreation, and Nature of the North.
Of course, plenty is going on elsewhere throughout the next four weeks. For the entire schedule of festivities, go to

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