Thousands expected at Grand Lighting

The Snow and Ice Showcase is held in conjunction with Polar Fest and has proven to be very popular.

“We have 10,000 people (on social media) who said they want to come for the grand lighting,” said Carrie Johnston, a member of the MN Sn’Ice planning committee.

That tourism traffic supports Detroit Lakes businesses, and it’s also fun for the locals.

“It’s for the good of the community,” Johnston added. “It gets people out enjoying the community.”

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The cost of the event is paid for by sponsors, and is helped greatly by people that give money during the festivities.

“If you want to keep this going, we just encourage free-will donations in the donation box,” said Scott Walz, another member of the planning committee.

The Snow and Ice Showcase is funded through 2021, but after that it’s not clear whether the event will continue.

So it’s best to get out and enjoy it while you can. Bring the little ones: The tubing/sledding hill by the Pavilion will be built again this year, and will be open daily from noon to 8 p.m., Feb. 7-16.

Dress warm, and watch out for slippery areas.

“It is a snow and ice event, so people should prepare accordingly,” Johnston said.

Snow sculptures a go, ice sculptures a no

As in the past couple of years, a snow sculpture competition will take place near the Pavilion during Polar Fest. The ice sculpture garden of the past, however, has been put in the cooler.

Expensive clear ice would have to be purchased and shipped to Detroit Lakes for the ice sculpture garden, and the display was axed this year to free up money for other new Polar Fest events. Sculptured ice is still a part of the throne display, of course.

And there will still be a multi-school district snow sculpting competition that generates a lot of excitement among Detroit Lakes area students, who are bused in for the event.

“It’s a great community-involvement thing, “ said Scott Walz.

New this year is a snow sculpting competition among MN Sn’Ice sponsors. There are dozens of sponsors at five giving levels, and the top tier givers are Midwest Bank, Lakeshirts, Accessories Unlimited, Herzog Roofing, Detroit Lakes Public Works and Malstrom Electric.

The sponsor competition is “a little friendly competition for bragging rights,” said Becky Mitchell, a planning committee member.

The Snow and Ice Showcase has brought in a surprising number of winter visitors since it was launched two seasons ago with the ice palace.

“People come out, they’re excited,” said Johnston. “This is something to look forward to, something to do, a chance to get out of the house, to invite family to come to Detroit Lakes.”

Introducing: The Sn'Icecast Media Desk

One new twist to this year's courtyard: The Sn’Icecast Media Desk. Local news and social media, schools, businesses and individuals are invited to reserve a time to broadcast from the desk, which is entirely made of ice.

“We’re also adding several more cameras this year, with better Internet capability,” said Mitchell — including one that will be pointed right at the new ice desk. “We will have a live feed there.”

All of the cameras will be accessible via the website at

Those planning to use the Sn’Icecast desk must reserve a time by contacting Carrie Johnston at the Chamber office, 218-847-9202. Broadcast times are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

You can be a ‘Palace Protector’

Those who want to get involved in this year’s Polar Fest can sign up to be part of King Isbit's Royal Guard, a.k.a. the “Palace Protectors,” who are charged with making sure the throne and courtyard remain intact throughout Polar Fest, as well as greeting visitors during the festivities and answering any questions they may have. To volunteer, visit

For more stories about 2020 Polar Fest, CLICK HERE.