January 28th, 2017 0730 hrs
A chilly, overcast morning inside the front doors of the MN State Fair Grounds. I pulled up with my truck full of tools and my newly adopted sidekick. The next 8 hours dedicated to carving my name into the snow.
The contest began with a preformed rectangular block of hardened snow (4’x3’x6′). Formed a week prior to the event when the unseasonably warm weather brought rain and melting temperatures. Not ideal for packing snow, nature created a challenge, this was a factor in the final design decision.
I started by scraping in rough lines on all four sides, I noticed some teams used chalk for this step.
The next step was to take away the largest portions of the block that weren’t needed. Working from the top down, this gives confidence and insight to where the finer cuts will follow. My primary tool was a 12″ draw blade, normally used for stripping bark off trees. I also used a short handle post/spade shovel. Other teams used large hand saws in addition.
After the bulk of the design is showing it’s time to carve in the details and smooth out the edges. For this I used a short drywall knife and a small garden shovel. The sharpest and toothiest tools worked best. My dull or flimsy tools didn’t make an appearance; spoons, butter knifes, wire brushes, combs.
I was directed to pull my tools away and ready my sculpture for judging. 8 hours went by too fast. I felt like I’d exhausted myself to the edge of my physical efforts, still I was left wishing for more time on the clock.
My favorite part: The people. I love being able to share my experience with the gatherings. Truly a great experience. Thank you St. Paul Winter Carnival 2017 and the Vulcan Snow Park volunteers and visitors.
I’ll be back next year, maybe to defend the first place showing, or I just might step up to the next level.
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