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31st Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition Will Go On, Thanks to Snowmaking Efforts

News

31st Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition Will Go On, Thanks to Snowmaking Efforts

Mike Costello

The 31st Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition will go on!

This free, family-friendly community winter event hosted by the Rockford Park District is now scheduled to be held in Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. Second St., Rockford, IL, January 25-28, 2017. The event was originally planned for January 18-21, but was moved due to warm weather.

The event brings teams from around the state to Rockford to compete for the right to represent Illinois in the U.S. Nationals Snow Sculpting Competition; there is also a high school division. Typically, more than 30,000 attend the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition to admire the massive works of snow art. 

Ever since this event began in 1986, the Park District has had to rely on Mother Nature to provide enough snow for the competition to take place. Thanks to a long-standing partnership with the Chicago Rockford International Airport, snow cleared from the runways would be transported to Sinnissippi Park to form the snow blocks.  Over the years, the event was postponed or canceled several times due to the lack of snow.  Fortunately this past year, the Park District was able to procure two used snowmaking machines that are capable of running off city water to make snow at Sinnissippi Park.

“There is a water hook-up on site, and thanks to the colder temperatures, we are experiencing conditions that are just perfect to make snow.  By this weekend, we will have made enough snow to build the snow blocks next week.  As long as Mother Nature continues to provide us with colder temperatures, the lack of snow isn’t a problem,” says John Beck, Events & Recreation Projects Manager.  

About the Competition

Eleven teams from Illinois will compete, with the winner advancing to the 2018 U.S. Nationals Snow Sculpting Competition in Lake Geneva, WI. One exhibition team (the winner of last year’s Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition, and competing in this year’s U.S. Nationals in Lake Geneva) will also carve a sculpture. Fifteen area high school teams will participate in the High School Division. The High School Division competition will take place January 26-28, 2017. High school teams begin sculpting at approximately 11 a.m. on Thursday, January 26, 2017.

Competition Timeline

State teams will begin sculpting on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. Sculpting will end at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at which time judging will take place. The public is encouraged to cast their vote for the People’s Choice award between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on January 21. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony at 1 p.m. in the Sinnissippi Park maintenance building. 

Competition Rules

Three sculptors make up a state team, and high school teams have four sculptors. The sculptors may not use any power tools or pre-fabricated molds. Teams use axes, machetes, water buckets, shovels, saws, ice chisels, and homemade scraping tools. Each team is assigned (by lottery) a block of snow that is 6 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 10 feet high. Finished pieces may not expand beyond 12 feet in diameter, but height is unlimited. High school blocks are 4 feet wide, 4 feet long, and 6 feet high.

Viewing Information

Sinnissippi Park is open to the public for sculpture viewing while weather permits. Viewing hours are daily from sunrise until 11:00 p.m. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome. Visitors may drive or walk through the park; visitors are encouraged to take the time to walk through, to maximize their experience, and allow them to view the sculptures from all sides. Limited parking is available at Sinnissippi Park.  Additional parking is available at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens just west of Sinnissippi Park across  N. Second St.

The Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition is hosted by the Rockford Park District, and receives tremendous support from the community through financial and in-kind donations. Major donors/sponsors for 2017 are ABC Catering, Catalyst Design & Photography, Cliffbreakers Riverside Hotel & Conference Center, Creative Crane and Rigging, Giovanni’s Restaurant & Convention Center, Lino’s, Olympic Tavern, Rock River Water Reclamation District, Scandroli Construction, Stockholm Inn, Texas Roadhouse, William Charles Construction, WIFR-TV, and Winnebago County Highway Department. Please look for 2017 block sponsors on site near each sculpture.