THIEF RIVER FALLS — Thief River Falls is embracing the winter weather this weekend with the city's inaugural Ice Fest, which kicks off Friday, January 10 and runs through Sunday, January 12.

The event was organized by the Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce, Visit Thief River Falls and the city of Thief River Falls to celebrate the city's history of winter sports. A dozen hockey games, snowshoeing, a kubb tournament, and snowblower races are just some of the activities that are scheduled to take place.

"Ice Fest came about with the idea of hosting Hockey Day in Minnesota here in Thief River Falls, being that we have a rich hockey history and we also have a world-class hockey arena, the Ralph Englestad Arena," said Antonio Franklin, Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce executive director. "So it come out with that idea to celebrate our hockey and also the history that we have here in our community."

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The kubb tournment is one of Ice Fest's featured events. The sport is played by knocking over wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons at them.

"Kubb is orginially a Scandinavian sport played on Gotland Island, Sweden," said Ryan Kolden, Thief River Falls Kubb Club director. "That's where the world championship is. It's kind of a combination of horseshoes, bowling and chess. "

The Thief River Falls Kubb Club has been playing in tournaments since 2010. For this weekend's tournament, the club has set up four playing areas, and is expecting participants from three different states to travel to the area to participate.

"We're just trying to get the tournaments as big as we can here, and this all helps," said Kolden. "It helps for next year to build it bigger."

The time of the kubb tournament and the full Ice Fest event schedule can be found at: