Forest Lake’s celebration of winter opens Saturday
When Flake Festival made its debut as Forest Lake’s winter celebration in 2011, the schedule comprised a few loosely arranged events.
As the growing tradition opens for a fourth year on Saturday, that same amount of events is represented in just ones new to the festival. Major first-time activities on the ice include a family Olympics competition, a luminary-lined 5K, an ice golf tournament and a vintage snowmobile show.
As a whole, the 2014 Flake Festival is a bonanza of family-friendly, seasonal activities spread over nine days.
“We are very, very happy to have these new additions to the event in general,” said Colleen Eddy, president of the Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the celebration. “There are a lot of opportunities to get more families and people here and showcase what Forest Lake has to offer in the winter.”
Most of the Flake Festival additions reflect the spirit of this year’s Olympic theme. A torch, carried in recent weeks to festival sponsors by Mayor Chris Johnson, will rest atop an ice pyramid at Lakeside Memorial Park, the downtown hub of the festival.
Three new events are set for this weekend on the ice of Forest Lake, just off the shoreline from the park.
First, the Polaris Industries product development center in Wyoming will sponsor a vintage snowmobile show from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday.
“We primarily engineer on-road vehicles – motorcycles and four-wheelers – out of this facility, but we’re still passionate about snowmobiles,” electrical engineer Mick Vrudny said.
He was part of a group of snowmobile enthusiasts at Polaris who drove their vintage sleds around the center’s front yard before their improvised track was overtaken by a newly completed building expansion. These owners will put their rides on display near the downtown boat landing, and they encourage others to show snowmobiles from before 1985 of any make or model. Show participants who register by calling 651-408-6495 will receive a vintage Polaris winter cap.
Those showing sleds will also be entered into a drawing for more prizes, including a vintage Polaris jacket. The show is free to the public, and those in attendance will be entered into a separate prize drawing.
Sunday’s Flake Festival schedule includes the Jim Trudeau Ice Golf Classic, a first-time event that will combine two passions of the former Forest Lake Police chief and Washington County sheriff who passed away in November.
Trudeau ran Castlewood Golf Course and helped found the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau. Proceeds from this golfing event will go towards the bureau.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to raise some money for his favorite charity,” said Friar Tuck’s Pub owner Melissa McCann-Archer, who came up with the idea. “He was just a good man. You never heard a bad word about him.”
Teams of four will play nine holes near the boat landing beginning at 1 p.m. Registration of $35 per person will include dinner and a drink at Friar Tuck’s following the scramble. Prizes will be awarded.
Due to the dinner, participants are encouraged to preregister by calling 651-464-5040. Check-in begins at noon at Friar Tuck’s.
Sunday evening, a course lit by 2,000 luminaries will host a 5K on the ice. Dubbed “Brrr for a Cure,” the untimed, family event is a fundraiser for the Forest Lake Relay for Life, which raises money for the American Cancer Society.
Participants may snowshoe, ski or walk the trail starting at 6:30 p.m. Registration opens at 5:30 p.m. and costs $25, which will go toward this year’s Relay for Life total. Admission is free for children under 12 accompanied by an adult. The first 200 registrants will receive a headband.
Bib numbers will be used for drawings throughout the evening. Games, music and coffee will be available inside the registration area, while local churches will set up outposts along the trail which may include a warming place or music. Participants will have the opportunity to add luminaries in honor of loved ones affected by cancer.
“‘Brrr for a Cure’ is a great opportunity to enjoy time outdoors,” event organizer Weslie Gray said. The event also sends a message to cancer-affected families “that we are thinking of them throughout the year,” she said.
Flake Festival’s second weekend will be anchored by the Rotary Club’s Winter Plunge on Saturday, Feb. 22, but the popular fundraiser will not be the only action on the ice that day. Nearby, the school district’s Community Education Department will host a family Olympics coinciding with the plunge from noon to 2 p.m.
The free event will feature an obstacle course with challenges such as a sled pull, javelin throw and ring toss. Participants can repeat the course as many times as they would like, then can enjoy a complimentary lunch from Vannelli’s on the Lake.
The family Olympics will provide good visibility for Community Education, and it meets a Chamber goal of adding family events to the Flake Festival lineup.
Flake Festival will kick off with an ice sculpture demonstration at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Lakeside Memorial Park pavilion.
Medallion seekers should study clues posted at www.forestlaketimes.com and www.flacc.org throughout the festival. The prize is a $200 check plus a package of gifts valued over $300. To claim the prize, the medallion-finder must have a Flake Festival button, available at the chamber and several local businesses.
The American Legion, 355 W. Broadway Ave., has a second-year event on tap from 2-5 p.m. Saturday. A mini-golf pub crawl will raise funds for the Legion’s Fourth of July celebration. The Legion also will hold a Valentine’s Biker Bash party at 7 p.m. that night. Call 651-464-2600 for more information on the festival’s events at the Legion.
Daytime events on Monday, Feb. 17, are centered around children. (School was to be off for Presidents Day, but it was added last week as a makeup day.) The movie “Despicable Me 2” will play for free at 10 a.m. at the Lake 5 Theatre. At 11 a.m., TradeWins Sports will host a bean-bag toss. Two-person teams (one adult and one child) will compete in a double-elimination format. Cost is $10 per team with 100 percent payout. Call 651-464-2994 to register.
The Legion will host bingo on Wednesday, Feb. 19, and a “Redneck Olympics” party at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21.
The festival’s second weekend heats up on Saturday, Feb. 22, with the fifth-annual Winter Plunge starting at noon. Many local nonprofits use the plunge as a fundraiser. Register or see more information at winterplunge.kintera.org. Plungers can head to the Legion to warm up with a chili feed starting at noon.
The Flake Festival button raffle winner will then be announced at 6 p.m. at Vannelli’s by the Lake. The button-raffle prize is $500.
The Ranger boys basketball team will raise funds with a dance at the Legion that night. The band “Them Pesky Kids” will play from 8 p.m. to midnight. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $12 at the door.
The 2014 Flake Festival concludes with a breakfast put on by the Forest Lake Beyond the Yellow Ribbon chapter from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Legion. Tickets are $8.
For more information on the festival, see www.flacc.org or contact the chamber at 651-464-3200. Roberts Family Funeral Home is the celebration’s lead sponsor.