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Plenty of winter fun!

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Just because the temperature outside will be hovering around zero for the next couple of months, that doesn't mean there won't be plenty of things to do outdoors in the lakes area.

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Two of the area's most anticipated events are the Frazee Sled Dog Races and Detroit Lakes' annual Polar Fest celebration.

The sled dog races will be returning to Frazee for the first time in three years this month, on Saturday, Jan. 29, and just a couple of weeks later, Detroit Lakes will be gearing up for its nine-day Polar Fest celebration, Feb. 11-20.

But there are plenty of events planned in the interim.

Though Wolf Lake will not be having a fishing derby this year, due to concerns over ice safety, VFW Post 8165 will still be having the raffle drawing at the Wolf Lake Lions Hall on Saturday, Jan. 15 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Wolf Lake City Clerk Lori Laine said the drawing would still include all of the traditional door and attendance prizes -- and a giveaway of 50 turkeys.

"They were worried about ice safety -- there's been too much snow -- so they turned it into just a drawing this year," Laine added.

The Woilf Pack Snowmobile Club will also be holding a raffle drawing on Saturday, Jan. 29 at the Lions hall, starting at 3 p.m.

Skiing

On Sunday, Jan. 16, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge will be hosting a beginners' cross-country ski event. The two-mile ski trek on the Tamarac Loop gets underway at 2 p.m.

Tamarac Refuge will also be hosting two other events this winter: There will be a second cross country skiing event on Saturday, Feb. 26, and a winter hike on Sunday, March 6.

The Feb. 26 ski trek will be a longer one, for more experienced skiers.

"It's about 5 to 6 miles, and it runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.," said Tamarac ranger Janice Bengtson.

The winter hike on March 6 begins at 2 p.m.

As the refuge does not offer skis for rental, participants will need to bring their own equipment -- and dress appropriately for the weather, Bengtson said.

"If there's bad weather in the forecast, you might also want to call ahead and make sure the event is still scheduled," she added.

Much of the Tamarac Refuge is open for skiing, snowshoeing and hiking throughout the winter, until the end of February; snowmobiles and ATVs are not permitted within the refuge boundaries, however. For more information, call 218-847-2641.

Also on Saturday, Feb. 26, Maplewood State Park near Pelican Rapids will be offering a Candlelight Ski from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Ski, snowshoe, or walk the one-mile trail around Cataract Lake. Stand around the campfire, chat with friends, and enjoy hot chili, bars, and hot drinks provided by the Friends of Maplewood.

The chili will be served at 5 p.m., and a trail of 150 candles will be lighted at 6 p.m. A ski pass is required for skiers 16 years old and older: The daily ski pass can be purchased at the park office for $6, or an annual ski pass can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.

Minnesota State Park vehicle permits are required for all vehicles. Contact the park office at 218-863-8383 for more information.

Sled dog racing

Frazee will be hosting its first sled dog race in three years on Saturday, Jan. 29.

There are several changes planned for this year's event, according to Neal Seeger, president of the Frazee Sled Dog Club.

Instead of starting racers at timed intervals, as in years past, the organizers are planning a mass start, where all competitors begin the race at the drop of a flag.

Although the races will take place just east of Frazee, as they have in the past, the trail for this year's event will run north, then return south along the same trail to the finish.

Also making a comeback this year is the Cabin Fever Weekend community-wide celebration. Held at the Frazee Community Center, there will be breakfast and lunch served, a silent auction, bingo, a cake walk, chili feed and more. The sled dog awards will also be given out that evening. The night will close with a live band performing.

Snowmobiling

Though area snowmobilers have been on the trails since mid-December, February is the big month for the sport in the lakes area.

Established in 1967 in Lake Park, the Midnite Riders Snowmobile Club hosts its annual Old Timers Classic Snowmobile Run on Saturday, Feb. 5. This fun run is geared for snowmobiles 25 years and older and has judging in many different classes.

After the judging concludes, the fun ride begins. The ride is a 40-mile loop that makes a total of eight stops at local businesses, beginning and ending at the Lake Park Liquor Store. For more information, call event coordinator Bud Hovelson, 218-532-7255.

The Regional One Lunger Association (ROLA) also holds its 14th annual 100 Lunger on Feb. 5th. The 100 Lunger is a 100-mile endurance race for one-cylinder sleds (vintage 1973 and older) held on Big Detroit Lake, with participants from across the U.S. and Canada. The event begins on the ice in front of the DL Holiday Inn, which serves as race headquarters.

Also in February, the United Lakes & Trails Riders Association (ULTRA) hosts its annual Vintage Rally and Swap Meet on Saturday, Feb. 19 by the Detroit Lakes City Beach.

Polar Fest

Detroit Lakes' annual Polar Fest celebration is getting bigger and better every year.

Besides the yearly events like the Polar Plunge, Turkey Bowling, Miss Polar Fest pageant, Ice Tee Golf Tourney, Freeze Your Buns Run and Daddy's Little Sweetheart Dance, there are a few new ones this year as well.

One of the newest events on the schedule is Polar Fest's kick-off event, the DL Breakfast Rotary's Poles 'N Holes Fishing Derby, set for Saturday, Feb. 12.

Derby organizers Breanna Adams and Nate Hunter have lined up a great set of prizes, starting with the grand prize for biggest fish -- a 24-month pre-paid lease on a 2011 Chevy Crew Cab 4x4, courtesy of Nereson's, or $10,000 cash.

There will also be raffle prizes totaling $30,000, and include a 2010 Polaris Sportsman 500 4-Wheeler, a 42-inch flat screen television and more. Tickets are $10.

Fishing derby tickets are $35. They can be purchased from any Breakfast Rotary member or online at www.icefishingdl.org.

Gates open for the derby on Feb. 12 at 9 a.m., and derby time is noon to 3 p.m. The raffle drawing will take place at 2, and winners need not be present.

Also new to the Polar Fest celebration this year is a tailgating party on Little Detroit Lake, which begins after the Polar Plunge and continues through the fireworks display.

A few of the other events highlighted will be the Vern Turner Memorial Bonspiel, Legend of Polar Pete readings at the library, polar explorer Lonnie Dupre speaking at the Historic Holmes Theatre, an Italian wine tasting at The Lodge on the Lake and the Polaritaville dance at Zorbaz.

For a complete list of the events, times and locations, visit the Chamber's website at www.visitdetroitlakes.com.

Detroit Lakes Newspapers writer Pippi Mayfield provided information for this story.

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