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About the Event

Event History

The Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition started with a chance encounter. In 1985 two local businessmen, Dennis Johnson and Brian Hampton, were snowmobiling in northern Wisconsin. They happened upon a winter carnival and a snow sculpture created by Jim and Bev Neihaus of Eagle River, Wisconsin. They made arrangements to bring the young couple to Rockford, and in January 1986 they sculpted three pieces near what was at the time the Sinnissippi Park Greenhouse—now the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens. The sculptures were an American eagle, the Statue of Liberty, and the Liberty Bell. Many Rockford Park District staff helped in the execution of these large creations.

The following summer, Dennis Johnson was informed about a group in Milwaukee that sanctioned state and national competitions. He and Rockford Alderman Frank Beach visited Milwaukee the following day, and Rockford became the host city for the first Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition in 1987.

About Sinnissippi Park

Rockford’s historic Sinnissippi Park was one of the Rockford Park District’s first parks, acquired shortly after the District was formed in 1909. An 80-acre tract was purchased for $47,500 to prevent the land from being subdivided by real estate speculators.

Formerly known as Rood’s Woods, the park was renamed Sinnissippi, meaning “clear flowing river.” When it opened in 1912, the park also contained Rockford’s first golf course. It now includes 123 acres and is one of the community’s most popular parks, with its playground, cookout shelters, nine-hole golf course, music and entertainment amphitheater, pickleball courts, and hiking trails. Special events such as Music in the Park, Holiday Festival of Lights, and the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition draw thousands of visitors to the park each year.


ISSC Steering Committee

  • John Beck – Rockford Park District
  • Martin Bloom - Rockford Park District
  • Becky Stokes Lambert – Rockford Park District
  • Kellie Olivencia - Rockford Park District
  • Don Stein - Rockford Park District
  • Laurie Terre - Rockford Park District
  • Ben Wiegel - Rockford Park District

ISSC Advisory Committee

  • K Dyer - Volunteer
  • Nicole Engelbart - Rockford Park District
  • Fred Gardner - Volunteer
  • Jen Gorman - Rockford Park District
  • Krista Gustafson - Volunteer
  • George Harnish - Volunteer
  • Doug Scherrinsky – Volunteer
  • Fran Volz - Volunteer

ISSC Founders Committee

  • Frank Beach – Volunteer
  • Jodi Beach – Volunteer
  • Jan Hagenlocher – Volunteer
  • Denny Johnson - Volunteer