Northern Wilds Magazine
A long-standing crowd favorite is the “smoosh” race. Teams are made up of four to six members strapped to a long set of modified skis running, or shuffling, to the finish line. | SUBMITTED
Along the Shore

Two Harbors Winter Frolic: A snowy extravaganza

Winter is in full swing and there is so much to enjoy in northern Minnesota. What better way to embrace the outdoors than by attending a winter-inspired festival, highlighting activities unique to the North Shore. Well, Two Harbors has been doing just that since the 1980s with the annual Winter Frolic Festival. This event, held Feb. 9-10, is a celebration of all things winter and offers a packed schedule of events for all ages to enjoy.

Although there is support from the city, it is not a City of Two Harbors sponsored festival. Each activity is sponsored and organized by either a local business or individual group, providing the equipment, prizes, and personnel to execute their contribution to the festival. Winter Frolic organizing committee member Sara Cuypers says this model of designing the individual activities is “like a well-oiled machine and isn’t too much work for one designated group.” She believes this structure is what makes it so successful—it is not run by a board, rather, volunteer committee members are responsible for one specific component, like marketing or grant writing. Because the lineup of events is entirely created by businesses or organizations that are interested in doing something, they simply contact the committee to get on the schedule. New and creative ideas are always welcome, as long as it is family friendly and brought to the table with the people power to run it.

This year’s festival kicks off on Friday, Feb. 9, with the annual Two Harbors Curling Club community curling challenge and chili cook-off competition. The majority of Saturday’s events are held in downtown Two Harbors, where a portion of 1st Avenue is closed off, and filled with loads of snow to accommodate all the festivities, along with vendors and plenty of room for spectators. The morning begins with a pancake breakfast at the Two Harbors Moose Lodge and most of the races, competitions, and games begin at noon. A long-standing crowd favorite is the “smoosh” race. Teams are made up of four to six members, strapped to a long set of modified skis, running—or more like shuffling—to the finish line. Other festival favorites include a keg toss, tug-of-war, and a winter kickball tournament. In addition, Dairy Queen is holding the annual medallion hunt—the first clue is announced on Thursday and runs until it is found.

Visitors can also enjoy drop-in activities throughout the weekend. An indoor vendor fair, featuring local artists and food, will be set up at the Moose Lodge and a sliding hill and fire pit with free s’mores will be provided by a local café, Louise’s Place. Family bingo will start after the races wrap up Saturday afternoon and, back by popular demand, free carriage rides through town will be available. New to the lineup this year is a blood drive at the community center Friday afternoon.

The Two Harbors Winter Frolic features all types of fun activities, including tug-of-war. | SUBMITTED

A festival is not complete without music, and visitors can enjoy live shows both Friday and Saturday nights at the American Legion. Headlining on Friday are the wildly popular Indecent Proposal, a Duluth indie rock band. Saturday features the five-piece variety rock band out of Cloquet, Perpetual Hiatus. Both performances are from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Cuypers, who has served on the committee for 15 years, explains this community event was created “to make the most of winter, giving this season its own purpose. It brings people out and feels like a community when it is so easy to just hunker down at home this time of year.” The committee does limited fundraising throughout the year and is primarily funded through grants and support from Lovin’ Lake County. Most activities are free to the public.

For a full schedule of events, registration forms for the races, or for general contact information, visit:

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