It's a sure sign that winter is just around the corner for Minnesotan snow sports enthusiasts. The Minnesota Ski Snowboard Expo takes place at Mall of America in less than three weeks, Oct. 22-24. Admission and parking are free at the annual show's new location, Mall of America, and it promises plenty of highlights.

Ski resorts from around the Midwest - Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan - and western resorts - Aspen, Big Sky, Breckenridge, Schweitzer Mountain, Ski Yellowstone Country, Steamboat, Taos Ski Valley, and Whitefish Mountain Resort - will be on hand to answer questions and help with trip planning. Local retailers and manufacturing reps will be there showcasing the latest gear for 2011.

Don't miss out on the giveaways every half-hour that will be taking place on the Rotunda. Lift tickets, trips and ski and snowboard gear will be given away.

Entertainment includes the Skyriders, a high-flying trampoline show in the Rotunda. Challenge yourself as to how fit you are for the coming winter season in Sears Court on the ELITEAM Fitness Course, and test your balance in Macy's Court at the Gibbon Slackline Demo area. There will be an ongoing film festival in the Great Room.

The Jeep Rocks Road Tour will also be hand. The entire Jeep brand lineup will be on site to test drive on the obstacle course at the free event. It even offers kids the opportunity to drive Jeep branded Power Wheels - mini Jeep vehicles - on their own little course and climb a rock wall. You can pre-register for a visit by following the link below.

Show hours are Friday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"Even if I don't buy anything at one of those events, I usually leave them giddy, anticipating the good things winter brings," St. Paul resident John LaPlante enthused upon learning of the show's dates.

More information.  Minnesota Ski/Snowboard Expo  Jeep Rocks & Road Tour