The Back to Hack midwinter festival Jan. 15-17 will give everyone a chance to celebrate the New Year — 2021!

The Hackensack Chamber of Commerce is working hard to make the week-long celebration, that actually began Jan. 11 with snow sculpting,  a COVID-safe event. Everyone is encouraged to practice social distancing and wear masks — if only to keep your nose warm!

Snow sculpting, weather permitting, is open to anyone or any organization but the sculpture must be built within city limits. To enter, call the Chamber at 675-6135. The contest runs through Jan. 16 at 3 p.m., when judging begins. Creators of the winning sculpture will receive $100 in Lucie Loot, good at any Hackensack business.

The first of three clever clues for the Back to Hack Medallion Hunt will be posted Thursday at 10 a.m. Clues will be available at Hackensack businesses or at the Chamber office. The second will be posted Friday and the third Saturday, both at 10 a.m. The Hunt ends when someone finds the medallion. The successful  “hunters” will win $100 in Lucie Loot.

Saturday kicks off with fun outdoors. The first-ever Family-Friendly Snowmobile Poker Run Ride begins at  10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Registration locations are Country Inn and Charlie’s Up North in Walker; Swanson’s Bait, Southside Fuel Plus and Rendezvous Brewing in Hackensack; and Godfrey’s True Value and the Corner Store, Backus.

The registration fee is $10 per person, with kids age 18 and under free and eligible for special prizes. The winning poker hand for adult receives a 50/50 split of the pot.

Participants must get their cards stamped at all seven locations listed to get their poker hand, which will be dealt out at 4 p.m. at the Chamber, or outdoors, depending on the number of participants.

Riders age 18 and under will have their hand “dealt” from a separate deck of cards.

Ride fees are non-refundable and any vehicle (snowmobile, car or four-wheeler) is welcome to participate. Dress appropriately for the weather, and please ride safely.

If you prefer your fun on foot, there’s the  Frostbite Ur Fanny 2.5 mile Fun Run/Walk Jan. 16 through the streets of Hack. Register at 10:30 a.m. at the Hackensack Visitor’s Center. The run/walk starts at 10:45 and ends at the Visitor’s Center.

Participants can either register by mail or bundle up and trudge over to the Visitor’s Center that morning to register. The registration fee for adults is $20 and kids 12 and under, $10.

To register by mail, include full name and address, date of birth, age on race day, gender, phone and email. Send info and entry fee(s) to Hackensack Chamber, PO Box 373, Hackensack, MN 56452. Mailed entries must be received on or before Jan. 14.

The race briefing is at 10:40 a.m. and the race starts at 10:45 a.m. The first 50 registrants receive a Frostbite Ur Fanny stocking Cap.

Fish, beware! The Back to Hack Ice Fishing Contest on Birch Lake begins at noon and runs until 3 p.m. Register at the fishing site, on the ice in front of the public launching area. Entry fee is $10 per person. Prizes will be given for biggest fish caught by an adult; biggest fish caught by youth; and first 25 fish caught. Prizes will be provided by Swanson’s Bait and Tackle.

Noon is also the start time for the Penguin Plunge; register at the Faith in Action office in downtown Hack. The Plunge begins at 1 p.m., with intrepid plungers jumping through a hole cut in Birch Lake’s ice to raise funds to support Faith In Action for Cass County and Hackensack Area Fire and Rescue.

Returning as MCs for the event are “The Penguin” and “The Polar Bear,” who  will  announce  the plungers, report how much they raised, and then bore the audience with polar bear and penguin-related trivia.

And yes, we know that real penguins and polar bears inhabit  totally different regions of the globe — like South Pole versus North Pole. Loosen up.

After this chilly interlude, a  Free Winter Carnival with Kids’ Games will be held in city park, sponsored by The Lighthouse Church. Hot cocoa will also be served.

Shortly after sunset, the community bonfire, fueled by discarded Christmas trees  and other greenery, will blaze in city park. At 6 p.m., fabulous Back to Hack fireworks will be shot off over Birch Lake.

Back to Hack 2021 concludes Sunday with breakfast served by the Hackensack Legion Auxiliary from 8:30-11:30 a.m.

The Back to Hack “It’s A Wrap”  will be held at 12:30 p.m. at Birchwood Char House, when raffle drawing, snow sculpture and Penguin Plunge winners will be announced.

As always, all events are subject to snow and ice conditions. For updates, call the Visitor’s Center at 675-6135, look for posters around town, or check the Chamber’s website at www.hackensackchamber.com.

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