How long has the competition been going on?

2015 will mark the 29th year of the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition, which began in 1987.

Where does the snow for the sculptures come from?

The snow comes from the Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD). When the runways are cleared of snow, the snow is piled up adjacent to the runways. The pile helps to insulate the snow. About a week prior to the event, trucks bring the snow to Sinnissippi Park, where it is poured into wooden forms.

What is the cost to enter the competition?

There is no entry fee for the competitors. Once they arrive at the competition, meals are provided by various sponsors. Motel accommodations for out-of-town sculptors are made available.

What do the teams win?

Trophies or awards are given to the winning sculptures. State teams are eligible to win the state of Illinois champion’s award, second place, third place, people’s choice, and committee’s choice awards. Each year’s state team winner is also eligible to compete in the following year’s national competition in Lake Geneva, WI. High school teams can win first place, second place, third place, people’s choice, committee’s choice, artist’s choice, and the Linda K. White Spirit award. There are no cash prizes.

What kind of tools do the teams use?

The sculptors may not use any power tools or pre-fabricated molds. Teams will use axes, machetes, water buckets, shovels, ice chisels, and homemade scraping tools. Barbed wire has been used as a flexible saw. An aluminum cake pan has had holes punched in it so that the jagged points could be used to scrape away the snow.

How many people are on a team?

The state teams have three people, and it must be the same three people who start working on the project. The high school teams have four people on a team.

How much time do the teams have to sculpt?

State teams may start work on Wednesday and they have until that Saturday morning at 10:00 am to finish. Some teams will work in the evening, depending upon weather conditions, their individual work schedules, and the complexity of their piece. The high school teams start their work at noon on Thursday.

How big are the blocks of snow each team starts with?

The state team blocks are 6 ft x 6 ft x 10 ft high. These blocks weigh about 2-1/2 tons. The high school blocks are 4 ft x 4 ft x 6 ft high.

Are there size restrictions for each finished sculpture?

State team sculptures may not expand beyond 12 feet in diameter, top to bottom. There is no height limitation. High school team sculptures may not expand beyond 7 feet in diameter, top to bottom and height is also unlimited. One year, there was a piece that was nearly 25 feet high!