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Ice palaces, valentines and moonshine...oh my!: Becker County Museum is hopping with activity with month

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The Grand Lighting Ceremony for the Detroit Lakes Ice Palace is set to take place at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 8. The Becker County Museum's ice harvesting exhibit at the nearby DL Pavilion will be open prior to the ceremony, from 5 to 7 p.m. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)3 / 6
Last Year's Polar Fest Aquavit Social at the Becker County Museum was a big success — so they're doing it again, on Thursday Feb. 15 starting at 5 p.m. (Submitted photo)4 / 6
For the third straight year, the Becker County Museum will be selling "Sweetheart Grams" for local residents to give to their loved ones for Valentine's Day. Orders may be called into the museum starting this Monday, Feb. 5. (Submitted photo)5 / 6
Since it opened on Jan. 11, the "History of Ice Harvesting" exhibit hosted by the Becker County Museum at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion has brought in hundreds of visitors of all ages. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)6 / 6

For the past month or so, ice harvesting, King Isbit and the Polar Fest Ice Palace have been dominating local headlines... and the Becker County Museum's "History of Ice Harvesting" exhibit at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion has been right at the center of the action.

As the official Grand Lighting Ceremony for the ice palace approaches, the museum is preparing for one last big influx of visitors to the Pavilion exhibit, which will be open to the public for three more days during the community's upcoming Polar Fest celebration, which runs Feb. 8-21.

"The ice harvest exhibit at the Pavilion will be open for two hours prior to the Ice Palace Grand Lighting Ceremony, which is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8," says Becky Mitchell, executive director of the museum. "It will also be open on both Saturdays during Polar Fest, Feb. 10th and 17th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day."

Ice harvest, Ice Palace and Polar Fest-themed memorabilia and logo wear will also be for sale, along with the new "Winter Harvest" book about the history of ice harvesting in Becker County and a few other popular selections from the museum's gift shop will also be available for sale at the Pavilion, Mitchell noted.

Then on Wednesday, Feb. 14, the museum itself will be hosting a Brown Bag Lunch presentation by local artist Hans Gilsdorf, who is the lead designer for the Ice Palace.

"Hans will basically be doing a wrap-up of the ice palace project, a look at how the build went from start to finish," Mitchell said.

Of course, Feb. 14 is also Valentine's Day, and to celebrate it, the museum will be offering Sweetheart Grams for a third straight year, with orders being taken from now through Feb. 12.

"It's also a fundraiser for the museum," says program director Emily Buermann, adding that just as in previous years, people can purchase a necklace or keychain "sweetheart" pendant for $15, then embellish it with beads, hearts or other decorative charms for a small extra charge.

"You can write a special — brief — note to your sweetheart, such as 'I love you,' the person's name or nickname, or even a reference to a meaningful Bible verse," she added.

"For a small fee, you can also arrange to have it delivered to a local school or business," Mitchell added. "We will be delivering them on Feb. 13-14, as time allows.

"It's a great way to let someone know you're thinking of them, while supporting the museum at the same time," she continued.

And finally, on Thursday,. Feb. 15, the museum will be celebrating the grand opening of its latest exhibit, "The History of Prohibition in Becker County," in conjunction with its 2nd Annual Polar Fest Aquavit Social.

"From 5 to 7 p.m., people can come in and purchase a ticket for $5, which will not only get them into the museum and the new exhibit, but also one Aquavit sample and one appetizer," said Mitchell. "Of course, they can also purchase tickets for additional samples."

Buermann noted that Hub 41 would be catering the event, with Scandinavian-themed appetizers and mixed drink samples featuring Aquavit, a popular Scandinavian liquor that is flavored with different spices and herbs to create a unique taste.

Buermann and the museum's research library director, Jennifer Johnson, have been busy putting the finishing touches on the new exhibit, which according to Johnson, will feature historical information on "bootleggers and moonshine," along with historic photos and artifacts from the Prohibition era in Becker County.

"It will also be highlighting two of our past county sheriffs, who both served during the Prohibition era, and a couple of local moonshine busts," Buermann added. "The exhibit will remain on display through April."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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