Just who is King Isbit anyway, and how did he come to be a part of Detroit Lakes’ Polar Fest lore? Here is the story, as told to the Detroit Lakes Tribune back in 2018, prior to the creation of the first ice palace:

“A long, long time ago, a young man went searching for adventure. He traveled to the East and it was shiny and coastal, but it didn’t feel like a place he could call home. He traveled to the West and discovered beautiful mountains, but again, he didn’t feel comfortable. Likewise, he went South and while the heat was nice for a while, it didn’t suit his personality. Others told him to try going North, as stories of the great people of the Northland were abundant.

King Isbit, as portrayed by local artist Hans Gilsdorf. (Tribune File Photo)
King Isbit, as portrayed by local artist Hans Gilsdorf. (Tribune File Photo)
“He stopped in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. The hustle and bustle of the Cities intrigued him, but he was drawn to the lakes and heard stories of bigger and more beautiful lakes farther north. And so he kept adventuring northward in Minnesota. His travels led him to a place known as Becker County, and he immediately fell in love with the beauty of the landscape and its bold and jovial people.

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“One winter day while out exploring, he stumbled upon a clear stream leading into frozen Big Detroit Lake. He took this opportunity to bathe and play in the crystal water. A special resident of the area, Polar Pete, happened upon our young adventurer and with a hearty belly laugh, Polar Peter said “You are truly a spirit born of this area,” and nicknamed him “Isbit,” which meant “ice cube” in Polar Pete’s native Scandinavian tongue.

“Isbit and Polar Pete became close friends and immediately began to celebrate winter with the people of Detroit Lakes for 10 days. They enjoyed games and merriment in what came to be an annual event known as Polar Fest. Over the years, Isbit continued to inspire events and festivities in the area and embraced his new nickname.

“He affectionately came to be known as King Isbit, the King of All Seasons for All Reasons. His many celebrations — WE Fest, Water Carnival, Art in the Park, Festival of Birds, Street Faire, to name a few — continue to bring people from all areas to enjoy his beautiful home and joyous people. In fact, over the years, King Isbit’s costume has come to reflect all these festivals and is adorned with other aspects of his beloved lake town.”

For more stories about 2020 Polar Fest, CLICK HERE.