February 2012 Take heart – winter’s not over It’s February. Winter’s going to be around awhile. What’s not to love! We are still short on snow, but some say the lake ice is the best it’s ever been – thick and not slushy or snow packed. Whether you want to fish or go for a quiet walk, you may see bald eagles cleaning up after anglers, trumpeter swans flying gracefully overhead or other winged winter birds. Did you know trumpeter swans are the largest member of the waterfowl group and the largest swans in the world? There’s always a lot to learn about the flora and fauna of our lakes and pine forests. With Valentine’s Day on February’s calendar, a winter getaway “up north” may be the way to win your Valentine’s heart for the first time or all over again. When and if it does snow, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updates snow and trail conditions in weekly reports updated after 2 p.m. every Thursday at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/index.html. And our Chamber Website provides information about trail riding and cross country skiing possibilities as well as available lodging, dining and other things to see and do while you’re here. If you time your stay, you can sample one of the following fun winter activities: Two fun events are planned Saturday, Feb. 11. Discover the good old days of harvesting lake ice at an old-time ice harvest at Itasca State Park. Dress warmly as you come out on Lake Itasca to see ice harvesters use tools of the ice cutting trade. Watch them create an opening in the ice with a single-handled handsaw, then breathlessly wait as they bounce the ice blocks out of the water onto the slippery edge. Watch for signs and park at the Lake Itasca boat landing. Registration for Audrey’s Purple Dream Fishing Tournament, “Our Answer to Cancer,” is from 10 a.m. to noon in Akeley on 11th Crow wing Lake. Hot food and beverages will be available on the ice and following the tournament at the VFW. Live music by MESH will be provided by the Akeley VFW from 8 p.m. to midnight. For more information, call 218-368-3393. Arts Downtown PR (3rd Thursdays) continue in downtown Park Rapids. The Park Rapids Lakes Area Council brings painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, dancers and other artists the third Thursday of the month. The evening events are free and open to the public. The schedule will be posted at www.prlaac.org. Experience a classic winter day in the country when the Legendary Sleigh Festival returns to Hubbard Sunday, Feb. 26. The festival honors the community’s prairie heritage. A parade of sleighs will wind through the village beginning at 1 p.m. Up to 20 rigs are expected to participate, ranging in size from traditional small “Currier and Ives” cutters to large logging-size sleigh buses. Gov. and Mrs. Lucius Hubbard (1882-1887) will lead the parade as Grand Marshals. A snow sculpture contest, dog sledding demonstration, food, hot chocolate, kids medallion hunt and short address by Governor Hubbard, music and more are in store. For more information, call 218-237-5203. If you need help planning a memorable and affordable visit, need more information about these and other winter activities or if you have questions, call our friendly staff at 800-247-0054 to learn more.