Snow. Ice. The Polar Vortex. School closings. The past couple weeks have been enough to test even the greatest lover of the season. The weather has been somewhere between brutish and oppressive. Even the news out of Pennsylvania promising an early spring hasn’t been much salve in the face of frozen over roads.
These are the Dog Days of Winter.
So when Mother Nature decides to show her unfriendly side, one must make due with what one has. Fortunately in Northfield, we have a brewery, a cidery, a distillery, an outdoor outfitter, and a great big armory all run and staffed by people who want to help you find the joy of the frozen month of February. To that end, this weekend, we are throwing the biggest party of the season, Yeti Fest.
“What is Yeti Fest?” Since mid-December, it’s the question I have been asked more than any other when I’m standing behind the bar. My answer has always been “An excuse to throw a big party in the dead of winter.” Now if that really were the truth, there would be nothing wrong with that, because we all need to blow off a little frozen steam right about now. But Yeti Fest is much more than just a party. It’s a series of events spread out all over Northfield and Dundas designed to make you laugh, make you cheer, slap a friend of the back and shake off these winter blues. It’s fun for the whole family. It’s a good time for you, your friends and some quality craft adult beverages. It’s whatever you need it to be.
It starts on Friday afternoon over at Loon Liquors, with the All Night Yeti Party. The folks at Loon are installing an ice bar on their patio with a bonfire out there to keep things cozy. There will be ice games, and they’re creating some specialty ice shots as well. The big event is a fat tire bike ride (open to everyone and all abilities) beginning at 5:15 p.m. And just to get your competitive juices flowing, the participants in the ice games have a chance to win a grand prize package from Loon, Imminent, Keepsake Cidery, Gear Resource Outfitters and Armory Square.
Meanwhile, Armory Square will be open from 6:30 – 11 p.m. on Friday night. Matt Arthur & The Bratlanders will play at 7:30, and there will be gourmet pizza from Café’ Shawn (who will also be serving pizza at Imminent). At 8:30, while the band is taking a break, they’re going to host the second annual Yeti Fest Long John’s Runway Contest. This is more than just a bunch of people parading around in their warmest skivvies; this is serious competition. Last year’s winners were a family of four who clinched the trophy when the teenage daughter performed the splits. If you want to bring this prize home, the bar has been set. Bring your “A” game to this event. We know you have it in you.
Festivities resume at 10:30 on Saturday morning at Armory Square with Yeti Story Time. With help from the Northfield Public Library, there will be songs and stories for the kiddos, and the totally-friendly-not-at-all-scary Yeti itself will be there to help support early literacy. Café Shawn will once again be on-site offering what is quickly becoming the most popular brunch in Southern Minnesota.
At noon the Yeti focus shifts to Keepsake Cidery. Gear Resource Outfitters will be on hand to rent snowshoes and offer not one, but two, guided trail walks. The first is at 1 p.m., and the second is an 8 p.m. candlelight affair. In between, at 3:30, is the inaugural Yeti Fest Sled Pull Race. Bring a sled, someone to pull it and someone to be pulled as you race through the Keepsake Orchard. Keepsake, which is only open for special occasions in the colder months, will also be releasing their first ever Ice Cider. There are trails all through the orchard that will be open for skiing and snowshoeing, so if you don’t want to do the guided walks, you’ll still be welcome to go explore the gorgeous Keepsake grounds.
Finally, on Saturday night, it’s Imminent’s turn to step up. We are proud to present live music from The Wreck at 7:30. This is a band with deep Northfield ties (most of them are St. Olaf alumni) who have been playing together since the 80’s. Led by the amazing Colleen Martin Oake on vocals, they play a great mix of funky originals and familiar tunes with their own little spin. This is their Imminent debut, because we wanted to save them for a special occasion like this. And then at 9:30, we’re hosting the second annual Yeti Lookalike Contest. Our own Abe Henson will be there to defend his title. Last year he topped an impressive filed of big, hairy gentlemen and one canine entrant. One can only imagine the competition he’ll face in 2019.
So, get you mind right this weekend. Celebrate everything that comes along with the season that made Minnesota famous. Drink some beer and some cider and some amazing craft cocktails. Go trekking through the winter wonderland all around us. Cheer for everyone. Laugh a lot. Forget the stress of winter. Let’s party.
A full schedule of the Second Annual Yeti Fest can be found here.