Next weekend, the Minnesota Vikings will unveil their winter offseason fan festival when the first Polaris Vikings Winterfest will take place Feb. 19-21 in Duluth. A full schedule of interactive fan events are scheduled for the weekend, giving fans from the North Shore and those looking to travel an up-close with current and former Vikings while benefitting the Vikings Children’s Fund.
Winterfest gets underway Friday when Vikings play-by-play man Paul Allen hosts his KFAN radio show from 9 a.m. to noon at Grandma’s Sports Garden in Duluth’s Canal Park. A reception will be held from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at Duluth Lawn and Sport with several current Vikings players available for photos and autographs. The official kickoff event will follow from 7:30 p.m.-midnight at Clyde Iron Works, 2920 West Michigan in west Duluth. Paul Allen will play host and introduce current and former Vikings. Tickets for the event are available at the Vikings official website and, if tickets remain, they will be $20 at the door. The headline act will be Snake Oil, playing a celebration of arena rock classics.
Saturday’s events will kick off with a free youth football clinic hosted by former Viking E.J. Henderson as well as current Vikings players at the indoor turf facility at the Heritage Sports Center, 120 S 30th Ave. W. in Duluth. The first session will be for children 6-12 from 10-11:30 a.m. with a limit of 200 participants. A second clinic for kids ages 13-17 will follow from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. with a limit of 150 registrants.
Also early Saturday, there will an open skating event held on the ice surface at the Heritage Sports Center. Hosted by the Vikings cheerleaders, the event will take place from 10:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. The open skate event is free and open to all ages.
Other Saturday events will include a Polaris exhibition at the Heritage Sports Center, a Polar Plunge event in Canal Park and Warming House events to meet current and former Vikings players – from 10:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Clyde Iron Works and from 3:30-7:30 p.m. at Mr. D’s Bar and Grill, 5622 Grand Ave. Both events will include player signing sessions, cheerleaders and mascot Viktor, along with music, prizes, games, food and beverages. Live music will follow Saturday night at Mr. D’s.
Sunday kicks off with a pancake breakfast from 8-10:30 a.m. at Clyde Iron Works. The event will also include a silent auction with winners announced at the $30,000 prize party that will take place at the Heritage Sports Center. Former Vikings Bob Lurtsema, Doug Sutherland and Carl Lee will be among those hosting the prize party. The doors open at 10 a.m. with the show starting at 11 a.m. and $30,000 in prizes being awarded from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Winterfest is the Vikings annual winter fundraising event, replacing the Arctic Blast, which took place on Lake Mille Lacs for many years. The event is one of the largest events the Vikings hold to benefit the Vikings Children’s Fund.