Most people in the Grand Forks area tend to stay inside as much as possible during the winter months.
This weekend, however, the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals and Cabela’s are hoping people will step outside and embrace the cold season.
After an absence of more than six-year, Frosty Bobber, an outdoor winter festival, will return to downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.
Frosty Bobber’s return is part of a recent movement by multiple organizations in the Grand Forks community to provide more winter outdoor activities. Events such as the old Frosty Bobber, as well as the annual First Night event, had strong attendance but faded out over time.
This winter, the community has gained the Hollydazzle Festival of Lights. The ice rink in the Town Square returned for a second year, and the ninth annual Frozen Feat race will be held Saturday as well.
“The thirst is there for an outdoor winter activity in Grand Forks,” Young Professionals Executive Director Corey Mock said. “We wanted to roll the dice and make it happen. We figured everybody would find a way to stay warm provided the weather behaves within reason.”
Mock said most people see Grand Forks winters as too harsh to host an outdoor event, but he hopes this event will give people an opportunity to be part of the community despite the frigid temperatures.
“We don’t want to be afraid of winter. It’s six months out of the year where the temperature can drop below the freezing mark,” Mock said. “We don’t want to spend our whole lives hiding from Mother Nature. We think having an outdoor event like Frosty Bobber is a great way of embracing the season, challenging the elements and proving we can have fun regardless of the temperatures outside.”
Stacey Majkrzak, executive director of the Grand Forks Downtown Development Association, said she’s happy more outdoor winter events are taking place and that people seem to be enjoying them.
She pointed to the Hollydazzle event and downtown ice rink, both put on by the DDA, as examples of people wanting to step out of winter hibernation and embrace the elements.
“I think organizations have found hosting winter events to be a unique way to break up the winter, since it can tend to feel so long,” Majkrzak said.
The event’s return
Frosty Bobber features family-friendly activities such as sleigh rides, cardboard sled races, a chili feed, an activity tent, minnow races, cocoa and s’mores stations, outdoor yoga and ice skating in the downtown rink, among others.
The event is highlighted by the ice fishing tournament, which has attracted more than 100 anglers. Because of the warm weather the area had last week, Mock said fishing will most likely take place on the Red Lake River instead of the Red River. A location has not been finalized for the tournament, but if it were to take place on the Red Lake River, a Minnesota fishing license would be required to participate, which can be handled at Cabela’s.
Started by the American Red Cross in February 1995, the Frosty Bobber winter carnival was held every year until 2006. It was revived in 2009 but then remained dormant until its revitalization this weekend.
Past carnivals were very similar to the one planned for this weekend but also included events such as dogsled races and a 5K run.
For this weekend’s festival, Mock said the Young Professionals made sure to reach out to the people who hosted the event previously, even speaking with the people who made the logo for the past event and its organizers.
“We wanted to make sure we’re respecting the past of it, but we’re also providing a new twist for the future,” Mock said.
Even with temperatures forecasted to hover in the low teens, Mock said he’s expecting several thousand people to come to downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks to celebrate the cold.
“I think this is going to be a great way of capping off a winter season,” he said. “We’re really excited to see the community celebrate winter. In a city notorious for its cold weather, it’s great to see the community celebrate the season as an asset.”