Ice Breaker: Detroit Lakes Polar Fest 2023

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Back and better than ever!

For The Ice Breaker Polar Fest, Detroit Lakes’ annual celebration of all things winter, officially gets underway Friday, Feb. 10, continuing through Sunday, Feb. 26.

The schedule includes a mix of familiar favorites and new events, according to Polar Fest committee volunteer Viva Lauinger, who is chairing the festival this year.

“There are well over 50 events people can participate in,” she said.

Through the generosity of the event’s sponsors, Lauinger added, the festival will once again have two nights of fireworks this year, on Feb. 11 and 25. Both shows will get underway at 7 p.m. on the ice of Little Detroit Lake, near

the Pavilion. Each of the festival’s three weekends will have a signature event: The 13th Annual Poles ‘N Holes Ice Fishing Derby, hosted by the Detroit Lakes Breakfast Rotary, returns on Saturday, Feb. 11, with fishing from noon to 3 p.m. Then on Saturday, Feb. 18, the ULTRA Snowmobile Club will host its annual Vintage Snowmobile Rally and Swap Meet, with a snowmobile show on the Detroit Lakes City Beach

starting at 8 a.m., and a ride starting at noon. And on Saturday, Feb. 25, the Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes will host its annual Polar Fest Plunge, with groups and individuals plunging into the ice of Little Detroit Lake for fun and fundraising, starting at 1 p.m. There are some new events on the schedule as well, Lauinger noted.

“On Friday, Feb. 10, the same night as the Daddy’s Little Sweet-

heart Dance, we have a Boys’ Night Out at the museum,” Lauinger said.

The event, which is intended for boys between ages 3-12 and their moms, grandmas, aunts or other special ladies, will run from 6 to 9 p.m. — concurrently with the dance at the nearby Historic Holmes Theatre, which is intended for girls ages 2-13 and their dads, grandpas, uncles or special friends.

Tickets for Boys’ Night Out can be purchased via the Becker County Museum’s online store, which can be found on its website, The evening will include games, munchies, and an opportunity to check out all the science center’s exhibits.

Also on Friday, there are a couple of other

“new” events on the Polar Fest schedule: A special, Polar Fest edition of Detroit Mountain’s Burgers, Brews and Bands, which starts at 6:30 p.m., with local musicians Kyle Colby and Rachael Ianiro; and the Detroit Lakes VFW’s Cosmic Bingo, which starts at 7 p.m.

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Polar Fest runs Feb. 10-26 this year
Lakes Noon Rotary Club
THE ICE BREAKER Polar Fest • Ice Harvest • Full Calender of Events
members participate in the 2022 Polar Plunge.

Bucks Mill Brewing Dives right into Polar Fest

For The Ice Breaker

It’s Bucks Mill Brewing’s first Polar Fest and they’re diving head-first into the icy waters with plenty of activities.

“Being downtown, having a big space, we wanted to be a good community asset for people to play games and have activities. Another opportunity for folks in the community to get together,” said Henry Van Offelen, one of Bucks Mill’s owners.

One of the big events hosted by the brewery this year is the Keg and Peg Cribbage Tournament on Monday, Feb. 13.

The tournament is being hosted at Bucks Mill Brewing (824 Washington Ave.) from 6-8 p.m. The format is triple elimination, and if the 15s and double runs are plentiful, you could be named the first-ever Polar Fest Cribbage Champion. Players must register for the tournament by Friday, Feb. 10 at F79bjpY6iuVHJmS78.

There is also an entry fee.

“We’ve been playing cribbage on Mondays, just promoting to come on down and play since November,” Van Offelen said.

And Bucks Mill has you and your significant other covered on Valentine’s Day too.

“We’re partnering with La Barista to have Valentine’s Day in here,” Van Offelen said.

From wild rice meatballs, to barbecue ribs, to white cheddar mac and cheese, there’s something for everyone, not to mention the 20 beverages on tap, three of which are non-alcoholic. Join Bucks Mill for dinner from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

And if lawn games are more your speed, the brewery is also hosting the Inaugural Polar Bean

Bag Tournament on Sunday, Feb. 19, from 1-4 p.m. Two-player teams of all skill levels are welcome, though registration for the tournament must be completed by Thursday, Feb. 16 at

There will be plenty of more opportunities to compete after Polar Fest as well.

“We just finished our first bean bag league, we had 11 teams, and that went really well on Tuesday nights. We’re going to start that again on the 21st (of February), another bean bag league,” Van Offelen.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the brewery will be utilizing its space for vendors to set up shop during Polar Pete’s Market. Van Offelen said most of the vendors will be selling food items.

Bucks Mill will also be out on the ice on Feb. 25, serving up drinks to Polar Plunge spectators. And if you’re grabbing a drink,

why not grab the limited edition Polar Lager?

The first pour of Bucks Mill’s Polar Fest-inspired beer will be Friday, Feb. 10. For every pint sold of the Polar Lager, $1 will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club, so drink good beer while doing a good deed.

Bucks Mill Brewing

Polar Fest events:

Beer tasting: Friday, Feb. 10 from 3-6 p.m. at Seven Sisters Spirits. Come enjoy free samples of Bucks Mill Brewing and stock up on growlers.

Keg and Peg Cribbage

Tournament: Monday, Feb. 13 from 6-8 p.m. Test your skills and luck during the triple elimination tournament hosted at the brewery, 824 Washington Ave. Registration and an entry fee are required. Register at F79bjpY6iuVHJmS78 by Friday, Feb. 10.

Valentine’s Day special: Tuesday, Feb. 14 from 5-8 p.m. at the

brewery. La Barista will be serving up dinner with a special Valentine’s Day menu. Beer tasting: Friday, Feb. 17 from 3-6 p.m. at Lakes Liquor. Come sample some of Bucks Mill Brewing’s own beers and stock up on the one you fall in love with.

Saturday night out: Saturday, Feb. 18 starting at 6 p.m. Dinner by La Barista will be served in the Bucks Mill Brewing taproom.

Inaugural Polar Bean Bag Tournament: Sunday, Feb. 19, 1-4 p.m. at Bucks Mill Brewing. Two-player teams of all skill levels are invited to go head-to-head in the first annual Polar Bean Bag Tournament. Registration is due by Thursday, Feb. 16 at https://

Homebrew tasting: Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 6-9 p.m. at Bucks Mill Brewing. Area homebrewers will be giving out free samples of their beverages. To sign up email by Monday, Feb. 20.

Polar Pete’s Market: Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Bucks Mill Brewing. The first-ever Polar Fest Vendor Show will showcase various arts, crafts and foods.

Polar Fest Plunge and post-plunge party

on the ice: Saturday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. at West Lake Drive on Little Detroit Lake. Bucks Mill Brewing will be serving up drinks during and after the Polar Plunge.

A great start

Bucks Mill Brewing held its grand opening on Sept. 2 and things have been going well so far, Van Offelen said. With regular cribbage and bean bag events, there are plenty of activities to get people in the door and plenty of good drinks to keep people coming back.

“We want to be a full-service brewery to the community and yeah, things are going reasonably well,” Van Offelen said about the last few

months. Bucks Mill has collaborated with several local businesses, like Great North Pizza and Manna Food Co-op. They have also partnered with La Barista and the Historic Holmes Theatre to provide dinner and drinks before a show.

“We’ve also paired with Roasted and Brygge, those are all walking distance places. We encourage folks (to) grab some food locally and come on in and enjoy the brewery and the atmosphere and have a beer or another beverage here,” Van Offelen said.

Being able to bring in outside food is a unique feature of Bucks Mill and continues to be a customer favorite, he added.

Cribbage and bean bag league will continue after Polar Fest, along with trivia nights and new beer releases.

“We appreciate people coming in. If you’re going ice fishing or heading out and watching the game on the weekend, we have cans you can buy, which has been consistent. We have a lot of people buying cans and bringing them home for whatever activities,” Van Offelen said.

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Bucks Mill Brewing will host the Keg & Peg Cribbage Tournament on Monday, Feb. 13. Contributed photos / Bucks Mill Brewing Facebook page Bucks Mill Brewing will host the Inaugural Polar Bean Bag Tournament on Sunday, Feb. 19.
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