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Polar Fest this week in Detroit Lakes

Polar Fest is back!

Though Detroit Lakes' annual winter festival has faded from view in recent years, a variety of local organizations, businesses and individuals have joined forces to revive it.

"This is really grassroots... a unique collaboration," says Amy Stoller Stearns, administrator of the Historic Holmes Theatre.

"We tried to get as many groups involved as possible," said Brent Wolf, program director at the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center.

Thus, various groups will be sponsoring a variety of events, from the ever popular Polar Plunge to a "slow food dinner" hosted by Native Harvest.

Polar Fest 2007 gets underway Thursday with the Northwest Minnesota Slow Food Dinner at the Historic Holmes Theatre Ballroom.

The festivities begin with a 5:30 p.m. wine tasting featuring wines from three regional vineyards. The dinner, presented by Native Harvest, will be a celebration of Minnesota foods, from buffalo roast (raised organically in Becker County) to wild rice, squash and mixed greens. Serving begins at 6 p.m.

The Minnesota short film premier of five slow food films from Italy will be shown during the dinner, and the festivities will conclude with the Minnesota premiere of Red River Valley-Metis violinist Sierra Noble, a 2006 recipient of the Aboriginal Achievement Award.

Also on Thursday evening, there will be a game of pond hockey on Little Detroit Lake, near the DL Pavilion. Game time is 7 p.m.

Friday's festivities move back to the Historic Holmes Theatre, with start of the second annual Daddy's Little Sweetheart Dance at 6 p.m.

This evening of fun for girls ages 2-12 and their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and other special friends will include crafts, music, food, photos and much more.

The planning committee has been hard at work putting together the menu and entertainment for this event, says Kesley Myhre, public relations coordinator for the DLCCC (which includes the Holmes Theatre). What makes this event so unique, however, is that the planning committee is comprised entirely of fifth grade girls.

Though the event is titled "Daddy's Little Sweetheart Dance," grandfathers, uncles and other special guests are also invited -- with one stipulation.

"No moms allowed," Kesley noted. However, moms, siblings and all other interested spectators will be invited to enjoy a 6:30 p.m. grand march on the stage of the theater. Admission is $5 for "little princesses" and $10 for their "dates." Call 218-844-SHOW to purchase tickets; pre-registration is requested, Myhre added.

Saturday will include a full slate of activities, starting with the 14th Annual Freeze Your Buns Run.

This 5K fun run/walk is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in front of the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center. This 5K fun run/walk has taken place in temperatures anywhere between 30 below and 30 above, Myhre said. Participants will run 3.1 miles, starting and ending at the DLCCC. Registration beings at 8 a.m., with the race warm-up at 8:45. The cost is $10 on or before Feb. 8, and $12 thereafter.

According to Wolf, the first 100 runners to register will receive a special, limited edition "Freeze Your Buns Run" gator. Stop by the DLCCC at 826 Summit Ave. to register in advance.

Next up, of course, will be the weekend's main event: The Polar Plunge.

The 11th annual Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes Polar Plunge gets underway with registration at 11 a.m. in the Lakeside Tavern. The Plunge itself will begin at 1 p.m. on Little Detroit Lake, across from the Lakeside.

According to Boys & Girls Club director Patrick Petermann, more than 50 people have already signed up to raise pledges for their dip into the icy depths of Little Detroit Lake, and organizers hope to double that number by the time the Plunge begins.

"The last few years, we've had between 65-75 people on average," Petermann added. "We've had a lot of calls for pledge sheets this year."

Those who decide to participate at the last minute, without taking pledges, may do so for a fee of $25. Call the Boys & Girls Club at 218-847-5700 for more information.

Later that afternoon, starting at 2:30 p.m., the DLCCC will sponsor its first-ever "Ice Tee Golf Tournament."

This fun twist on the popular warm weather sport is a fundraiser for the DLCCC and is being sponsored by Lakes Mortgage Group.

Four-person teams will golf a 9-hole course on the ice of Little Detroit, in front of Zorbaz Restaurant. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. at Zorbaz Restaurant, but teams are asked to sign up in advance at the DLCCC. The fee is $100 per team.

"All teams will get free brats and chips," Wolf added. Call 218-844-4221 for more information.

Detroit Lakes Newspapers will be sponsoring sleigh rides from 2-4 p.m., starting in front of the DL Pavilion. Wally Rodewald will take participants on a ride around the DL City Park and surrounding area.

That evening, the festivities return to the Historic Holmes Theatre, where local singer-songwriter Eric Riehle will present a live concert, "An Evening With A Regular Joe," at 7 p.m.

Riehle's show will feature his own original compositions, both solo and in tandem with longtime friend and singing partner Stacey Abrahamson. He will sing and play the acoustic guitar.

Following the concert, the Lakes Area Parrotheads will be hosting a dance featuring the music of Poco Fuego, along with fresh seafood and tropical treats catered by Big Daddy's Surf Club of Fargo.

According to Jim Brogren, president of the Lakes Area Parrotheads, the menu will include blue marlin flown in from Hawaii, especially for the occasion.

"They're (Big Daddy's staff) going to be grilling seafood skewers and all kinds of tropical treats in the parking lot at the theater entrance," Brogren said. Cost of the event is $15 per person, with proceeds to benefit the Detroit Lakes Music Development Foundation and the Historic Holmes Theatre.

According to Brogren, the Detroit Lakes Music Development Foundation is a new organization that has dedicated itself to "bringing the music back to Detroit Lakes." For more information, call 218-844-SHOW.

On Sunday, the Historic Holmes Theatre will host another free concert, as part of the Sunday Recital Series sponsored by the theater and Playhouse 412. The 2 p.m. show will feature the music of Rick Kratzke and other local musicians.

Ongoing activities throughout the weekend will include the Lakes Open Bonspeil at the Lakes Curling Club, Friday through Sunday; sledding at Detroit Lakes area parks, ice skating at Lincoln Rink (outdoor) and Kent Freeman Arena (indoor); and a kids' art show at the Washington Square Mall.

Polar Pete, the festival mascot, will be making appearances at various Polar Fest events, and has organized a scavenger hunt (clues available in this edition of the Becker County Record).

Sponsors for this year's Polar Fest include KDLM Radio, Washington Square Mall, Detroit Lakes Newspapers, the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce, the DLCCC, DL Newspapers, and the Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes.

A complete schedule of events is available at

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