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Polar Fest leaves 'em speechless

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With temperatures dipping well below zero at times, this weekend's Polar Fest nevertheless managed to draw good enough attendance to be judged a success by organizers.

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One of the best-attended events was the Daddy's Little Sweetheart Dance on Friday evening, which drew more than 300 people.

"For the grand march we had people lined up from the entrance to the stage all the way down the hallway outside the theater and into the ballroom," said Kesley Myhre of the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center, who helped coordinate this year's Polar Fest activities. "There were lots and lots of dads and daughters out there dancing -- it went really well."

The Native Harvest "slow food" dinner on Thursday was also nearly sold out, Myhre noted, with 126 people in attendance.

The Freeze Your Buns Run, which started out Saturday's schedule at 9 a.m., drew more than 70 runners despite the fact that the temperature at the start of the race was minus 12 degrees.

"We thought that was excellent given that the temperature was below zero," said Myhre (who participated in the event). "We were very satisfied with the number of runners participating."

The top finisher for the men was Kevin Lachowitzer, with a time of 17:41. He was followed by Chris Brown at 17:42 and Eddie Stinger with a time of 18.35.

In the women's division, Kari Brown crossed the finish line first with a time of 19:53. Katie Nelson was second at 21:00, while Heather Smith came in third at 21:16. (Full results are available at www.dlccc.org.)

The Boys & Girls Club's 11th annual Polar Plunge also brought good attendance, despite the unusually frigid atmosphere.

"We had 68 people take the plunge," said Pat Petermann, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club. Though that total was down about 10 people from last year, Petermann attributed it to illness as well as colder-than-normal temperatures.

"Though we don't have the final numbers yet, we raised about $36,000," he continued.

That total includes a $10,000 matching donated by BTD Manufacturing for the first $10,000 raised by local businesses. With BTD's "Race to $10,000" bringing in about $20,000 from the local business community, the remaining $16,000 was raised through individual donations, Petermann added.

Four teams (of four people each) participated in the inaugural Ice Tee Golf Tournament, held on Little Detroit Lake in front of Zorbaz Restaurant.

Hosted by the DLCCC, the Ice Tee tournament included nine "fun and frozen:" holes, each of which was sponsored by a different local business, according to organizer Brent Wolf, who works as program director at the DLCCC.

First place went to the four-person team from Lakes Mortgage Group with a score of 24, followed closely by the Taco John's team with 25. State Bank & Trust finished third with a 28, and Kelly Riggle Trucking rounded out the top 4 with a score of 30, Wolf noted.

"Corey Metelak of the Lakes Mortage Group team scored a hole-in-one on Hole 7," Wolf added.

"We were satisfied with that (participation) for our first year -- but we're really looking to grow that event for next year," Myhre noted. "I think it's something people will really get into it once they learn what it is all about."

That evening, about 120 people attended a free concert at the Historic Holmes Theatre, which marked the return of local singer-songwriter Eric Riehle to the concert stage after a 20-year absence. Accompanied by his long-time friend, vocalist Stacy Abrahamson, Riehle performed approximately 90 minutes of original material that he had written.

While the attendance could have been better at the evening's final event, a dance sponsored by the Lakes Area Parrotheads, Myhre said organizers are hoping this is another event that will grow in future years.

"The food (catered by Big Daddy's of Fargo) was great, and the atmosphere in the ballroom was awesome -- it really felt like you were on a cruise ship," Myhre said.

The final event of the weekend was a Sunday recital at the Holmes Theatre, featuring local musician Rick Kratzke.

"We had over 100 people come to that event, and we were pretty satisfied with that," Myhre said.

Other events held during the weekend included the Lakes Open Bonspiel, held throughout the weekend at the Lakes Area Curling Club; free sleigh rides through the Detroit Lakes City Park on Saturday; and open skating at the Lincoln and Freeman Arena rinks.

"We really hope to make Polar Fest grow next year," Myhre said, adding, "Next year we just want to get some more people involved and expand it a little."

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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