By Amy Rea

It’s been another crazy Minnesota winter weather-wise, but that doesn’t stop the merriment from happening. This is just a sample of happenings in February. (Note: the list doesn’t include the large number of Polar Plunges—or, in Wabasha, the Grumpy Old Men Plunge—occurring around the state this month.)

St. Paul
Wells Fargo WinterSkate in Rice Park
Daily through Feb. 11; check the website for hours and weather cancellations
Enjoy one of winter’s most charming rituals in one of the Twin Cities’ most charming locations. Ice skate rental available for $4 on a first-come, first-served basis (free for Wells Fargo customers).

St. Paul Winter Carnival
Now through Feb. 10
Take that, you stupid New York reporters of the late 1800’s; Minnesota is not “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter.” And with that, a cherished annual festival was created. Coronations, ice-carving contests, snow-block building, snow sculptures, a lavish torchlight parade, hockey tournaments, maybe even snow soccer. Don’t be a wimp.

Spicer
Winterfest
Now through Feb. 11
Spicer (just outside of Willmar) takes its winter festival very seriously. Three packed weeks of bonfires, snowmobile runs, fish fries, fishing tournaments, Frozen 5K, Polar Plunge, and fireworks.

Ely
Winter Festival
Now through Feb. 11
If you can’t find something to do at this festival, you’re a curmudgeon indeed. Learn how to sculpt snow, take a dog sled ride, attend a dance, enjoy live music, visit the Dorothy Molter Museum, go snowshoeing or skiing, and attend the Mukluk Ball.

Waseca
Sleigh and Cutter Festival
Now through Mar. 10
Waseca celebrates its heritage with some fun old-time activities. A kickball tournament (yes, outdoors), vintage snowmobile ride, old-fashioned ice harvest, a golf tournament, and snowmobile races.

Winona
Frozen River Film Festival
Feb. 3-11
Independent and foreign films abound in this annual festival. Besides an extensive film list, enjoy live music performances and programs lead by leading environmentalists and local filmmakers.

New Ulm
Fasching
Feb. 10
True to its German heritage, New Ulm celebrates Fasching, a German Mardi Gras that occurs before Ash Wednesday. German food, music, dancing, even a Parade of Costumes.

St. Paul
Victorian Poetry Slam
Feb. 14
The James J. Hill House is home to this annual tradition, where costumed actors recite poems by the likes of Poe, Dickinson, and Browning, and conclude with refreshments and a house tour. Reservations recommended. 

St. Paul
Mondo Juggling and Unicyle Festival
Feb. 16-18
Your chance to try juggling or unicycling—or just attend the Spectacular and see what the pros can do—and music and magic too.

Apple Valley
Tropical Beach Party
Feb. 17-Mar. 11
If you’ve had about enough of winter, then head out to the Minnesota Zoo. It’s beach time. Yes, really—there’ll be plenty of sand for everyone to play with. Not to mention calypso music. Vic

Walker
Eelpout Festival
Feb. 22-25
Arguably one of the ugliest fish out there, eelpout serves as the centerpiece for this festival, now in its 39th year. Fish fries, mechanical bull rides, auto race on the lake, dancing, and of course, fishing for eelpout. 

Nisswa
Frozen Fore
Feb. 22-25
Missing your summertime golf? Then this is just right for you. Several 9-hole courses set up around Gull Lake, parties with music and food, and a hockey tournament.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Tuesday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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