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Snow Transforms into Works of Art at 33rd Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition


Snow Transforms into Works of Art at 33rd Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition

Mike Costello

ROCKFORD IL – Blocks of snow are transforming into works of art at the 33rd Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition which takes place at Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. Second St., Rockford, IL beginning Wednesday, February 6, 2019 through Saturday, February 9, 2019. Teams come from all over 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.

The Rockford Park District hosts the free, family-friendly winter event every year. Through community engagement last year, citizens consistently requested their tax dollars go to areas such as: neighborhood parks, paths, open space, community events, youth programs, and other areas that have a greater impact on the entire community such as Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition. The massive works of art also bring roughly 30,000 visitors to Sinnissippi Park every year.

About the Competition

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. Beginning in 2016, the District has been able to utilize district-owned snowmaking machines to make snow which has allowed the competition to go on. Six teams from Illinois will compete, with the winner advancing to the 2019 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 February 7-9, 2019.

Competition Timeline

State teams begin sculpting on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. High school teams begin sculpting at approximately 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 7, 2019. Sculpting will end at Noon on Saturday,

February 9, 2019, at which time judging will take place. The public is encouraged to cast their vote for the People’s Choice award starting at 8:30 a.m. on February 9, 2019 and winners will be announced at the awards ceremony that day at 3 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 10:30 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. Rockford Park District received a $10,000 grant for the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition from the Community Grants Program of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, with support from the Donald V. and Britta A. Peterson Memorial Fund. This event is also partially supported by a grant from the Rockford Area Arts Council, which receives support from the City of Rockford, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and its members.

Major donors/sponsors for 2019 are ABC Catering, City of Rockford, Holiday Inn Express, Lino’s Restaurant, Olympic Tavern, Pizza Ranch, Prairie Street Brewhouse, Professional Graphics, Rockford Roasting Company, Stockholm Inn, Texas Roadhouse, WIFR-TV, William Charles Construction, and Winnebago County Highway Department. Please look for 2019 block sponsors on site near each sculpture.