Warm weather and thin ice have triggered the cancellation of several Minnesotan ice-centered activities.

For the first time in 11 years, the Art Shanty Projects festival, being held this year on White Bear Lake, has canceled one of its weekends. Started in 2005, the monthlong festival has put art exhibits out on a lake every weekend in February. Not so this weekend, and next weekend is iffy, too.

Dawn Bentley, the event’s executive director, said ice samples taken by the Ramsey County Water Patrol led festival organizers to conclude that the ice was unsafe for the estimated 3,000 people who come through the exhibit each weekend.

Plans for next weekend are still up in the air, Bentley said. The White Bear Lake event isn’t the only one to be affected by this week’s warm weather.

Late Friday, Eden Prairie announced that its popular ice castle exhibit has been closed for the season because it’s melting. “We’re extremely disappointed that we are having to close early, but as the weather changes, so must our plans,” organizers wrote in an e-mail, adding that those who have bought tickets should watch for an e-mail with information about refunds.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced Friday that city ice rinks have been closed for the season. While ice rinks are still open in St. Paul, routine maintenance will no longer occur on nonrefrigerated rinks, the city said.

Outdoor rinks in Woodbury closed for the season Thursday, other than the refrigerated rink at Bielenberg Sports Center. Other cities that have closed their outdoor rinks include St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Golden Valley, Roseville and Eden Prairie. Edina and Shoreview closed their outdoor rinks for the weekend, and a decision will be made Monday about whether they’ll stay closed.

On Maple Lake, two fishing competitions were canceled because of poor ice conditions, and the Eelpout Festival in Walker banned trucks from the lake.

Icehouses may be affected, too. Sherburne County issued a notice “recommending ice fishermen not wait until the last minute to remove their fish houses from county lakes. County lakes have standing water due to this Friday’s rain. When the weather returns to below freezing, icehouses will freeze to the lake surface, making removal difficult without damage.”

Meanwhile, the first metro-area grass fire of the year was reported Friday, from the Lowry Tunnel to Groveland Avenue in Minneapolis. There was no word on what caused it.


Ben Farniok is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.