Snow Time! Midwest Winter Festivals
Saint Paul Winter Carnival: A Vulcan fairy tale
Fireworks explode, and a hardy crowd outside the Saint Paul Public Library cheers and dances, probably as much to keep warm as to herald victory in this quirky citywide ritual. Each winter, some 525,000 frozen souls lose themselves in a Vulcan fairy tale in which a winter king battles Vulcans eager for spring. Winter always loses, the story goes, even though everyone knows it'll be months before the spring thaw comes.
Legend says the event started with a snub: An East Coast newspaperman visited in 1885 and said Minnesota was unfit for human habitation. No matter that Minnesotans themselves spend countless hours complaining about the cold--the gauntlet had been thrown. Two years later, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival began. These days, the carnival (late January to early February) packs 125 events throughout the town. "The Winter Carnival defines us as Northern people," carnival historian Bob Olsen says simply.
Pictured: Ice-skating is free (skate rentals are $2) at the rink outside the Landmark Center.