Polar Fest is entering its final week in Detroit Lakes, and for those who haven’t yet ventured to the Detroit Lakes park, beach and pavilion to check out all the snow and ice sculptures, there’s still plenty of time. to take it all in.
One of the new features of the “MN Sn’Ice Snow and Ice Showcase” is the first-ever Detroit Lakes Poetic Walk.
The first “Polar-try Poetry Walk” features 19 poems on eight panels, attached to ice supports scattered throughout the park.
More than 50 poems were submitted by the Jan. 15 deadline, 36 of which were written by students in Jackie Jenson’s writing class at Holy Rosary Catholic School in Detroit Lakes.
“All my students submitted them (poems),” said Jenson, who submitted two of his own poetic works, both of which were selected by the jury for inclusion.
Five of her students’ poems were selected—a fact of which Jenson is quite proud.
“I told them they were going to compete against adults, people from other cities… and five of their poems were selected,” she said. “They were very excited.”
The poems chosen were: “The Beginning of Winter,” by Ethan Quitberg; “Skating in Winter”, by Luke Tobkin; “Below Zero”, by Evelyn Lage; “The Champion Pike”, by Joshua Stone; and “Winter Wonderland”, by Ava Klemm.
The two poems selected by Jenson, which she submitted as “JS Jenson”, were “Little Snowman” and “Winter Winds”. The latter was printed as part of a welcome banner, under Kendra Gilsdorf’s haiku, “Polartry Promise”.
Mary Beth and Kendra Gilsdorf, the mother-daughter team behind the creation of the poetic walk as part of Polar Fest 2022, had put together a set of guidelines that included:
- Up to three poems can be submitted;
- Each poem must be an original work created by the entrant;
- Each poem should not exceed 18 lines and each line no more than 40 characters;
- Poems can feature any topic, but should fit the theme of a family winter festival.
Although the poetic promenade will be removed from the municipal park at the end of Polar Fest, the panels will be reinstalled in a new location for next year’s celebration. The Gilsdorfs hope to expand the poetic walk each year, space and budget permitting.
Here are some additional facts about this year’s poetic walk, courtesy of the Gilsdorfs:
- There are a total of 19 poems on display – 18 selected from 54 submissions, reviewed and scored anonymously by an independent jury, plus a haiku by Kendra Gilsdorf as a “welcome” to kick off the walk.
- Besides Jenson, Jeff Krueger and Perry McGowan also selected two poems for this year’s march.
- Two sets of spouses had selected poems: Jeff and Deb Krueger, and Sheila Smith and Perry McGowan.
- All but three of the poems are by Detroit Lakes poets. The exceptions are Sheila Smith and Perry McGowan, who are from Forest Lake, and Angel Keefe, who is from Dent.
- Trophy House printed the poems on Alumacor, similar to all other MN Sn’Ice and Ice Harvest History Exhibit signage, to make them as weatherproof as possible.
Gilsdorf also noted that they had “no budget” for the promotion this year. For those who didn’t hear about it in time to be included, there’s a whole year to prepare for inclusion when celebrating Polar Fest 2023.
The final week of Polar Fest will feature more than a dozen events, from Monday’s inaugural Polar Glow party at Detroit Lakes Pavilion to Sunday’s Sno-ga in the Park and Sweetheart Sundae Dance (for dads and daughters) at Boys & Girls Club.
The signature Polar Fest Plunge will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and there will be a second round of frozen fireworks (following opening night on February 12) that evening at 7 p.m.
One event that will not take place is the Mountain Live Music and After Dark Tube which had been set for Friday, Feb. 18: Detroit Mountain Recreation Area posted on its Facebook page Thursday after -noon that it would be closed on Friday due to cold temperatures and strong winds in the forecast.
A full schedule of all remaining Polar Fest events can be found at
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the facebook page. A live camera feed of MN Sn’Ice Palace and all Polar Fest-related activities in the City Park can be viewed online at