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Northern Spark organizers and friends bring artsy fun outdoors at Winter 4Play

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Look, we live in Minnesota. Instead of fortressing yourself inside and complaining about the cold, why not embrace the beauty of our snowy climate by going outside and getting some exercise? A perfect opportunity to do this is at Winter 4Play, an event that invites people to try their hand at snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other winter activities. 

As part of Winter 4Play, northern.lights.mn has a slew of art-centered games scheduled for people to play. The organization, which brings us the all-night festival Northern Spark each summer, will have a team of artists on hand this Saturday. They'll be helping with ARTathlon, a creative answer to the triathlon (without the need for months of training beforehand). 

“The idea is to try things out,” says northern.lights.mn’s Steve Dietz. “I’m excited to bring a little bit of Northern Spark into the winter. In the future, the organization hopes to expand the event and participate every year.

At the gathering, guests can expect to see the kinds of hands-on audience participation that they might encounter at Northern Spark, except in a snowier environment.

Alyssa Baguss is hosting a project, called Text Me, where participants write messages to each other and send them across the lawn using a giant rope. Moheb Soliman will be encouraging people to “litter with nature,” taking tree branches, benches, and grasses and placing them in the landscape. “It’s a kind of exterior decoration,” Dietz says. Once you’re done placing the objects, you mark their place on a map. Meanwhile, Jess Hirsch and Emily Stover have created a labyrinth, inviting people to walk through as they listen to audio recordings that facilitate cultural healing.

Be sure to also make time for arctic golf with Robin Schwartzman, outdoor pingpong with Peter Haakon Thompson, Taiko drumming in trees with Niko Kubota, speech writing with Monica Sheets, and try your hand at a curious, giant Jenga challenge with Meena Mangalvedhekar.

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“The fun part is the range of things that you wouldn’t normally do in winter,” Dietz says.

It won't all be chilly activities. During the event there will also be hot chocolate, bonfire activities, a sauna, and other fun to enjoy and explore.  

IF YOU GO:

ARTathlon at Winter 4Play

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Fort Snelling State Park

Winter 4Play is free, but you do need to have a State Park sticker per car, which costs $5 for a day pass (or $25 for a year pass).