Beginning as early as 1926, White Bear undertook a winter festival, first as a Corn and Potato Show in partnership with the Ramsey County Agricultural Society. The event was billed as a “mini county fair in the winter.” In 1930, an Ice Carnival was added that featured open skating, speed-skating races, toboggan slides, broomball, cross-country skiing, dog races and hockey in the rink on Clark Avenue.
The event took on the name of Mid-Winter Fair when the Corn and Potato Show and Ice Carnival merged. Each year, area businesses would sponsor a young lady in hopes she would become carnival queen. Many events allowed contestants to dress up and be part of the festivities.
In 1935, White Bear took its Ice Carnival to the next level by creating its own ice palace. The structure enclosed the band shell in Railroad Park. The Queen’s Palace, as it was called, had translucent colored papers over the window openings that were illuminated at night, and featured an ice throne in the front for the queen’s coronation.
In 1937, Bald Eagle got into the act with a carnival scheduled in conjunction with the annual White Bear Festival. The one-day festival included a parade, skating near Rogowski’s Boat House and its own queen competition. The project was a collaboration between the Bald Eagle Boys’ Club and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society.
For more information on the Mid-Winter Fair, visit whitebearhistory.org, or call 651.407.5327.