Lisa Meyers McClintick, travel writer & photographer

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bundle up for Minnesota's biggest ice fishing festival


Last January, the windchills were 20 below at the  Brainerd Jaycees' $150,000 ice-fishing extravaganza. That didn't seem to bother anyone except posers like me with hand- and toe-warmers and pajama bottoms augmenting long underwear and too-thin snowpants. Truly hearty Minnesotans brought portable heaters to thaw their beer. Bud slushie, anyone?

The sheer spectacle of this ice-fishing contest--10,000 people and 21,000 holes--is worth the grins that freeze to your face. Grab your gear or your camera to witness Brainerd, Minnesota's 2010 contest next Saturday.

Read my full feature, which includes Walker, Minnesota's, annual Eelpout Festival:
http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/travel/81712152.html?elr=KArks7PYDiaK7DUqyE5D7UiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUr


Cold noses, warm humor
How can you not laugh when:
  • Guys drive all the way from Wyoming for the event and joke it's for the good-looking women. (As if you could even tell women from the bundled-up men. This is no place for pretty pink parkas.)
  • The music being cranked out across the ice includes takes the classic "Rawhide" music ("Rollin', rollin', Rawhide!") to "Giddy-up, Waaaaaalllleeeyyyee!"
  • Locals use the home-court advantage and haul recliners to the ice--comfy and assuredly less frigid than a parade chair.
  • Flashbacks to the State Fair are triggered by cheese curd stands and the fact the people-watching is just as good.
  • You can shop for serious ice-fishing gear from Minnesota companies or opt for a more whimsical fur-lined horned helmet from Steinarr, "The Crazy Viking."

The Crazy Viking experience
You may have seen Steinarr at Minnesota Vikings games. He dresses like a Medieval marauder, but he also  reigns over the Nordic Inn Bed and Brew in Crosby, Minnesota, about 15 minutes away. It's one of the state's most unique places to stay in that it's part living history site, museum and dinner theater. Guests play interactive games, wear Viking attire, and have to be prepared for a bit of bawdy humor. Steinarr built the bed and breakfast in a renovated church with a Viking ship suspended from the ceiling. That's one of the places guests can sleep.

If you're looking for more unique escapes and ice-fishing contests, angle over to http://www.exploreminnesota.com/.

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