Art Shanty Projects moves to beach due to deteriorating ice conditions

Art Shanty Projects will be held on the shore of Lake Harriet instead of the ice this year due to deteriorating ice conditions. 

The popular winter art festival, which is typically held on the ice, made the announcement on Thursday ahead of an expected January thaw this weekend

"We started off the new year celebrating 13 inches of good, clear ice. Unfortunately the recent snowstorm created a warm cozy blanket over the whole lake, acting as insulation. That, paired with the warming temperatures, caused a deep slush to form on top, and the clear ice has been reduced to 6 inches at the site where our village should be. While 4 inches of ice is needed for walking on the lake, we need 10 inches to operate safely with crowds and structures," Operations Director Kerri Jamison said in a news release. 

Art Shanty Projects says this is a disappointment, but it was an easy decision to make due to wanting to keep eventgoers safe. And after monitoring conditions and talking through viable options, event organizers have resorted to what they call "plan beach."

"I’m confident that the shanty community will skillfully adjust to a new environment and make the same dazzling, community-based public art that we are known and loved for. We’re in a strong place and we invite you to come out and have a new kind of adventure with us," Artistic Director Erin Lavelle said in a statement. 

Lavelle says this year's event, which opens to the public on Jan. 21, will be a whole new way of experiencing the Art Shanty Porjects, noting shanties and performances will be nestled along paths throughout the park, along the lakeshore, and in picnic grounds. 

"It’s in our heart and mission to be a temporary, flexible, adaptable community. We openly respond to winter and its changing nature. We are positioned to do this new format well, and we have been holding a plan for this scenario in our back pocket since 2019, just in case," Lavelle said. 

Shanty artists will install their projects this weekend, with the program opening to the public on Jan. 21 at Lake Harriet Bandshell park. The festival will be open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Feb. 12. 

This isn't the first time the Art Shanty Projects has moved off the ice. The event was evacuated from White Bear Lake in 2016 and 2017 when temperatures soared into the 40s and 50s.