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A Winter Celebration for All Ages in Beautiful Southeastern Minnesota

Rochester, Minnesota, is home to one leading medical treatment facilities in the world (Mayo Clinic), but it's also a great Minnesota vacation location with something to offer every visitor. The city of over 100,000 residents has regularly graced Money Magazine's list of the best places to live, and features activities and festivals during every season.


The Rochester WinterFest has been a big part of the community for the past 15 years, highlighting local winter activities and to raising awareness and funds for local nonprofit organizations. Planners expect roughly 6,800 attendees, and over 20 different nonprofits will also be represented at the event. Patrons will encounter a variety of things to do at this two-week celebration including a blues music concert, family fun area, ice fishing contest, Sale’s at local businesses, a polar plunge, and much more. It’s truly a community experience with over 500 local volunteers donating more than 2,000 hours. Last year the Rochester WinterFest raised over $350,000 for nonprofit organizations. We got the chance to interview event representative, Tracy McCray, to talk about this family-friendly winter experience.


RAL: How long has the event been running?  

TM: This year will be the 15th for WinterFest. Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede noted 15 years ago that there were a few long-standing winter time events that could be brought together under the heading of WinterFest and the event was born!  For an organization to participate in WinterFest, they only have to be a nonprofit business or local charity event.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

TM: Around 6,800 attendees will be participating in support of over 20 nonprofit groups.


RAL: What makes this event unique?  

TM: There is an event for everyone including children, families, groups, and couples. The event takes place during the daytime and nighttime and with indoor and outdoor activities.


RAL: What can I expect as an attendee?  

TM: Every day is different at the Rochester Winterfest. Attendees will experience a variety of activities ranging from a polar plunge to a live music concert. The ever popular Baconfest will return this year and it will feature samples of a variety of foods with bacon.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

TM: Rochester is home to thousands of hotel rooms, so finding accommodations won't be a problem. The fun will be finding one that perfectly suits your needs.  


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?

TM: All the events are in support of local nonprofits.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

TM: Check our webpage and find an event that sounds like fun to you or your family. You may choose ice fishing, polar plunging, ice skating, cardboard sled racing, or cross-country skiing by candlelight. You might stay indoors and solve a murder mystery, explore the History Center, or party at the Blizzard Bash. It's an opportunity to embrace winter and enjoy the season!

For more information about the Rochester WinterFest, please visit their website.