Winter festivals, races and TwinsFest get creative to avoid being cancelled this year

The COVID-19 pandemic isn't stopping these traditional Twin Cities events. Organizers are getting creative to keep them going.

MINNEAPOLIS — This winter we're all looking for something to do, something to get us out of the house.

If that’s the situation you’re in, good news, there are a lot of big winter events going on this weekend.

At Target Field, the annual TwinsFest celebration kicked off Saturday morning.

This year the event was completely virtual.

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Fans had to tune in to either YouTube, Twitter or Facebook to see the team’s live video stream of various events throughout the day.

“You can tell fans are just ready for the season to start,” Twins promotions manager Mitch Retelny says.

Some of the highlights from this year’s Virtual TwinsFest include a table-reading of the classic baseball movie The Sandlot.

The film’s iconic players were portrayed by various Twins players who read lines and acted out the parts.

TC Bear also joined the fun with a drawing class and an ice carving demonstration.

Players and coaches also answered questions from fans about the upcoming season.

“The engagement has just been constant,” Retelny says.

“People have been commenting and they just love hearing from the players.”

Other winter events were also forced to get creative this year.

The Loppet Foundation had to change its annual race event to meet the state’s various COVID restrictions.

"We just decided cancelling was not an option,” executive director Claire Wilson says.

“If we could do it safely and get people outdoors, this year more than ever, people need community and outdoor activity.”

Instead of one weekend, organizers had to spread the event out over two weekends.

Organizers also had to limit the races to 250 racers.

“We could only let in a few fans to watch the races too. So, it’s been a lot of volunteers cheering them on this year,” Wilson says.

It was also a big adjustment at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival.

"Normally we're headquartered in downtown Saint Paul, at Rice Park, where it’s normally jampacked. Clearly, we couldn't do that this year,” board member Amy Mauzy says.

Organizers moved the traditional ice carving contest and sculpture park to the state fair grounds.

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The event is drive-thru only this year.

"We put tickets on-sale and they sold out,” Mauzy says.

“We put on another 500 tickets for sale and they were gone very quickly. So, we're very pleased to see people are still interested in the event.”

Now, I know a lot of you Twins fans are wondering, what about spring training? What about the regular season? Are we going to be allowed in to see the team this year?

Well, we asked about that and team officials say it’s still up in the air right now.

They're still figuring that out with the league and the state, and when it comes to spring training, they also have to work with the state officials down in Florida.

They say there are a lot of moving parts, and a lot of work that’s going on behind the scenes.

However, Twins officials say they’re working hard to safely get as many fans in the stands as they can this season.

Stay tuned.