DULUTH, Minn. — Generations of fans welcomed different eras of Vikings over the weekend at Polaris-Vikings Winterfest.
The interactive fundraiser benefits the Vikings Children’s Fund, which distributes money annually to nonprofits that help improve the lives of young people.
The weekend of festivities included “Voice of the Vikings” Paul Allen broadcasting his Friday *9 to Noon *show on KFAN from Canal Park.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman took a brief break from preparing for this week’s NFL Scouting Combine to phone in for the program, and Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant delighted listeners in person and over the airwaves with his memories and perspectives. Grant grew up near Duluth in Superior, Wisconsin, before serving in the Navy and embarking on a remarkable career in athletics.
Linebacker Chad Greenway, who just finished his 10th season in Minnesota, followed Grant on the show and said he’d like to play one more season in the NFL, particularly with the Vikings. The spirited live audience erupted with chants of “One more year! One more year!”
“Obviously, there’s a lot of business for that to come to fruition, but it’s great to hear the fans,” Greenway said during an interview with ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling, 1500ESPN.com’s Andrew Krammer and Vikings.com. “Obviously they’re appreciative of my first 10 years and would like to see me finish here. I definitely take pride in that and think it’s fun to hear. It makes you feel good.”
Grant and Greenway joined Vikings players Stefon Diggs, Jerick McKinnon, Cordarrelle Patterson, Adam Thielen and Shamar Stephen for an autograph session at Duluth Lawn & Sport with a massive turnout that afternoon. It was interesting to watch as young people met players they’ve watched recently before being introduced to the 88-year-old legend who remains with the Vikings as a consultant.
A concert by Snake Oil capped Friday evening with a talented review of arena rock music.
As Vikings alumni Greg Coleman, Carl Lee, Pete Bercich, Robert Griffith, Henry Thomas, Bob Lurtsema and Doug Sutherland hit the snowmobile trails Saturday, Diggs, McKinnon, Patterson, Thielen, Stephen, T.J. Clemmings and Carter Bykowski helped E.J. Henderson with two youth football clinics.
Thielen, a native of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, who played road trips for youth and high school sports in Duluth, said he enjoyed the opportunity for teammates to see a part of Minnesota beyond the Twin Cities.
McKinnon, a Georgia native who just completed his second season in Minnesota said he enjoyed connecting with fans in a new environment.
“It’s been fun to be able to mingle with the people of Duluth and see how many Vikings fans there are away from the Cities,” McKinnon said. “I’ve had a good time working with the kids.”
The alumni, Grant and current Vikings players capped the day with two more rounds of autograph signings, before the weekend capped with a prize party Sunday morning.
View images from the inaugural Polaris Vikings Winterfest, which was held in Duluth to benefit the Vikings Children's Fund.