For five years, the Youngstrom family has dedicated many winter hours to creating a scene that is straight from the movie Frozen. Unlike Elsa’s castle, the Ice Palace at LaBelle Lake did not come from magic.
Jim Youngstrom first dreamed about the LaBelle Lake ice castle, but the palace we now enjoy is a product of the entire family’s dedication.
Youngstrom’s children also participate in running the Ice Palace corporation. Their daughter, Kira Martin, is the venue director. Their son, Britton Youngstrom, is a dedicated architect and handyman at LaBelle Lake.
“Jim (Youngstrom) is very creative,” Becca Backstein, the Ice Palace manager, said. “We add new things here every year. It’s a different experience every time.”
When Jim first had the idea, the family was unsure what to expect.
“We started out just because LaBelle Lake is really slow in the winters,” said Shannon Youngstrom, Jim’s wife and co-owner of the Ice Palace. “So we started thinking of a winter attraction and (Jim) started freezing ice in our freezer.”
As to why the Ice Palace at LaBelle Lake has seen so much growth in such a short period, Beckstein offers an explanation.
“There’s not a ton to do … in the winter so people are just really aching to get outside,” Beckstein said. “So it’s a cool experience, especially for families and people to bring their kids to see it.”
It would be a mistake not to mention the other reason for the Ice Palace’s success: The dedicated craftmanship, cheerful aura and new attractions. Some of the attractions include sleigh rides and fire shows.
Whether it’s the Winter Festival on Feb. 4 from noon to 5 p.m., a visit from the Grinch on Jan. 21 and Feb. 11 from 4 to 7 p.m., or Princess Coronation Day on Feb. 24, there are numerous extra events being held at the Palace.
The success of the Rigby Ice Palace has led the owners of LaBelle Lake to create another location. The Ice Palace at Fountain Hill Winery recently opened in Delano, Minnesota.
“After 2020, it lit a fire underneath (the company) to bring it to a lot of different people across the country,” Backstein said.
This winter is the first that the Minnesotan palace will be open. The Ice Palace at Fountain Hill Winery has been more successful than the Palace at LaBelle Lake in Rigby.
“The land that it’s on is bigger, so they’re able to make it a lot bigger so they can fit more people inside,” Beckstein said. “It’s definitely been very successful.”
Backstein also said that the family and the company are looking into expanding to more places throughout the country.
Despite their plans to expand the business, the Ice Palace at LaBelle Lake will stay in Rigby, Idaho.
“This is the founding area,” Beckstein said. “It has sentimental value here.”
What started as a simple wintertime attraction has grown into an enterprise with the potential to create magical scenes across the country.