The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Frozen fun at the Art Shanties

By Tressa Versteeg

As we all know, Minnesotan winters can be beyond cold. We also know that how the locals behave in freezing weather can be beyond sane. These weary winters never seem to stop the locals from bundling up, putting on a Minnesota nice smile and going outside and having fun: snowshoeing, sledding, snowman-making, skiing, ice skating, ice sculpting or wandering around a village of ice fishing shacks all afternoon: welcome to the Art Shanties.The Six Annual Art Shanty Project is located on Medicine Lake, about 20 minutes west of Macalester in the suburb of Plymouth. In the middle of the ice are the real icefishermen, but nearer to the shore, about 20 “art shanties” dot the ice, each with its own personality and theme. These shanties are not filled with old men with fishing rods wearing flannel, but people of all ages wearing flannel, as well as arts and crafts, music and good cheer.

My friends and I began at the Word Shanty, which had free used books and a word game of sorts. Using the letters in W-O-R-D-S-H-A-N-T-Y, you have to spell out a word or phrase. To win the daily competition, not only did you have to have the best word/phrase, but be able to be the most creative in spelling out your word/phrase-with bodies, shadows, structures or whatever you could think of. The Word Shanty wordsmiths would take a photo and choose their favorite of the day. However, my friends and I never made it past the spelling stage-only coming up with “soy wart”.

We then moved on to the Ped Pex Power Pod Shanty, that offered free coffee, tea and hot chocolate-the hot water powered by visitors peddling on a bike generator-and a little blue grass music.

Next on the trek was the Radical Mapping Shanty. Here we saw a myriad of maps showing various perspectives. For instance, one map had the political map of the U.S. with the names of countries, instead of the names of the states. The countries matched the state’s GDP. Coincidentally, Norway has the same GDP Minnesota has. Near the map shanty, were the Dicehouses-cubical mini-shanties replicating dice, with room to sit and play board and dice games.

Then we stumbled upon the Shackleton Shanty, the capsized ship Endurance, where Sir Ernest Shackleton Antarctic explorer himself was waiting to tell us his tale of treacherous exploration and survival trying to reach the South Pole in 1914. “Shackleton” and his comrade (actually two gals with convincing fake beards, boat speak and a good sense of humor) have been living in Shackleton’s ship shanty (capsized by icebergs in the Weddell Sea) for the duration of the festival, to be rescued Feb. 14. —

We next toured the Third Level Shanty (three floors), the News Shanty and the Art Post Shanty. We spent some time in the Paper Shanty (made out of recycled cardboard, where you can learn how to make different origami shapes during the learning sessions), Refrigerator Shanty (made out of black refrigerators) and the Dance Shanty, before we ran out of time to visit the many other shanties. Luckily none of us had to visit, perhaps the most important shanty, the Biff Shanty, a.k.a. the outhouse.

The Art Shanty Project runs for five weeks in the winter and is open to the public Sat. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m and Sun. 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. There is no admission, but some of the shanties sell hot chocolate and other snacks. Many of the shanties offer activities throughout the day-performances or teaching sessions- and there is also a Bicicle race every Sat. and Sun. at 2 p.m. with the championship Sat. Feb. 14, where bicycles and possibly tricycles, will attempt to forge perilous ice track around the lake.

Tomorrow, Feb. 14, is the last day of this year’s Art Shanty Project (it began Jan. 17). Join an array of Minnesotans-children, adults, students and dogs-and experience Minnesota at its best. Visit for more information and directions.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All The Mac Weekly Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • R

    Robert MaySep 5, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Asking questions are in fact fastidious thing if you are not understanding something fully, however this paragraph provides pleasant understanding even.