Minnesota festivals in jeopardy because of warmth

10:57 PM, Jan 9, 2012   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Some winter festivals across Minnesota are in jeopardy because of the unseasonably warm weather.

The warmth has many people, including Justin Kaufenberg, watching the forecasts closely.

"This doesn't exactly jive with my particular preferences," he said.

That's because Kaufenberg is one of the organizers for the U.S Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis

"You see two rinks out here right now, we'll be adding 25 more rinks," he said about the lake.

With about 2,000 hockey players from across the world coming for the tournament January 20-22, this unbelievable weather we've been having isn't helping.

"We're excited about the event but ultimately, safety is first," he said.

Right now, Kaufenberg says the lake is 10 inches thick but needs to be at least 12, something he's confident will happen. He doesn't think they'll cancel or reschedule.

"Certainly we'll make that call if needed, but based on the weather we don't expect that to be the case this year," he told KARE 11.

But he's not the only one who may have to make some tough calls.

In Duluth, organizers of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Race will meet Sunday, January 15 to decide if they'll have to cancel the January 29 event. They need at least one foot of snow but, at this time, there's very little -- or none at all.

And then there's perhaps the biggest of them all, the Brainerd Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake. It's touted as the biggest contest of its kind in the state, and perhaps the country.

Locals say right now the lake is about 10 inches thick, but they'll need it to be at least 16 for the event on January 21. So far, no decisions have been made if the event will be cancelled or postponed.

Organizers with the City of Lakes Loppet, a cross country skiing festival in Minneapolis, won't make a decision on their festival's fate for two more weeks.

It's not until February 4 and 5, but they need at least four inches of snow for the race.

"Four inches and a couple shovelers," organizer John Munger added with a smile. "And to do a modified version we can get by with an inch or two.

And organizers with the St. Paul Winter Carnival don't have any plans on cancelling the popular event in a few weeks, but may have to modify some things because of the lack of snow.

And so it goes this January 2012, a winter that just doesn't seem to want to arrive.

"Who would predict 50 degrees in the middle of January," said Munger.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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