Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition starts Jan. 14

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, imagine a 10-foot-high block of packed, pure white snow being carved into works of art, completely at the mercy of the elements and susceptible to the whims of nature’s blessings—or bane.

The 18th Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition gets under way Jan. 14 in hilly, scenic Sinnissippi Park. The snow is courtesy of the Greater Rockford Airport. People are invited to drive through the park throughout the creation time and encourage the artists as they work in the elements to create frozen works of art and personal expression.

“Over the years of this event, we’ve worked in sub-zero temps to where we could work only at night because the sun and heat kept melting our structure,” reported Randy Tackett, a veteran snow sculptor from Rockford. “It means the world to us to have people drive through the park and give their support while we’re working. It would also be great to have lots of people come through and offer financial support this year, in addition to their moral support, so we can keep this great event alive for many years to come.”

There will be a donation collection mailbox at the entrance to the park, and visitors are asked to contribute $1 per car donation to assist in the cost of putting this special event on.

“The $1 a car donation is voluntary, but we sure hope people see the benefit of this wonderful community event that really puts Rockford in an international spotlight,” said Pat Hayes, event director. “We have an international team coming from Mexico this year, 16 state teams competing, and 14 local high school teams. The media coverage is truly worldwide, with the Internet and expanded press coverage. We truly need the local community support, as well as all the visitors who come to town to view the snow sculptures to participate through their $1 per car donation.”

The Holiday Festival of Lights also requested a voluntary contribution of $1 per car, $5 per bus at the entrance of Sinnissippi Park, and collected $16,288.43 with 31,237 vehicles visiting the lighted displays between Nov. 30 and Jan. 1.

“These two special events are very popular for people of all ages, and we appreciate their willingness to share the financial burden of putting these events on,” said Barbara Baptista una Freund, senior manager of Community and Therapeutic Recreation.

The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners directed staff to implement new revenue sources over the next three years, which includes admission donations to the Holiday Festival of Lights and Snow Sculpting Competition, with a $25,000 revenue stream projected for 2004.

The sculptures are to be completed by 10 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 17, for judging. The park district will keep the park open and the sculptures lit for night viewing for as long as the structures are safe and attractive.

Visitors have the opportunity to vote for their favorite sculpture with “The People’s Choice Award” Saturday morning by casting a ballot between 8:30-11 a.m.

The Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition is a featured event of Winter Rocks, a visitor campaign in association with the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and other partners. Hotel accommodations and special stay and play packages are available by calling (800) 521-0849, or visiting

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