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June 17, 2010

Ice Park

Today I became a little more educated on the Ice Park that I'm currently staying in for the week. According to the Anchorage Daily News:

The World Ice Art Championships are billed as "the largest ice sculpting competition in the world." Teams of artists who often make their livings by creating fantastic ice carvings for cruises, fancy weddings, major banquets, etc., vie for the ribbons in abstract and realistic styles that include single- and multi-block categories.

With the cold of Interior Alaska on their side, they're able to shape astonishing figures with exquisite detail, sometimes cantilevering hundreds of pounds of ice high above the ground with minimal support. Some carvings are three stories tall; the Guinness Book of World Records is currently checking to see if one sculpture hasn't broken the record for height.

Oddly, when the event started 21 years ago, the sponsors had carving-quality ice shipped from Seattle to Fairbanks in the middle of winter. Then they discovered that they were sitting on the Holy Grail of frozen water -- "Arctic Blue Diamond Ice," forming clear, blue and rock-hard in a pond at the Ice Park.
Now ice from the park grounds is shipped around the world. It was used for this winter's ice carvings in Anchorage's Town Square. A few years ago, some was ordered by famed glass artist Dale Chihuly for a show in Jerusalem.

In terms of attendance, the Ice Park may be Alaska's single biggest arts happening. Organizers say 40,000 people visit during the short lifespan of the sculptures.

Sadly, this may be the last year that this event is held in Fairbanks. The understanding by which the Ice Park has operated on land owned by the Alaska Railroad since 1995 is about to expire. When the federal government initially ran the railroad lease agreements for railroad land it was rather haphazard; it's said there were some getting land for about $10 a year. In 1985, when the state took over, the Legislature insisted such disparities cease and mandated that the Alaska Railroad get "fair market value" for all land leases. That's a significant chunk of change for the land that the Ice Park currently sits on. The Railroad has been working with the Ice Park for about 13 years, trying to do a long term lease and haven't been able to make it happen.

a heroic depiction of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees by Louisiana carver Dawson List missed out on the judging when the top half couldn't be completed in time to add to the bottom half.
I would love the opportunity to view this someday. It has to be spectacular in person. To think that only a few short months ago, this RV park where I'm staying was transformed into a snowy winter wonderland full of dramatic ice sculptures created by artists from around the world.

The closest I got on this day was a visit to the Ice Museum downtown in the Old Lacey Street Theater. Inside, The Ice Showcase is an 8,000 cubic foot walk-in display case that maintains a constant temperature of 20 degrees. Inside are the results of hours of work on over 40,000 lbs. of world-famous Fairbanks ice. Understandably, I didn't venture into the Showcase since I only had a t-shirt on, but was satisfied with viewing the sculptures from outside the case, within the confines on the warm auditorium.

 I watched a  theater presentation called Freeze Frame, which is a dynamic large screen multi-image presentation that tracks, from start to finish, the process of Ice Art.

It's always fun to learn something new. I have a new appreciation for the piece of land my motor home is parked at for the week.


  1. Those were beautiful ~ Thanks,for sharing your adventure! Mo

  2. Hi, Aunt Sherri!! I have been reading your blog for a couple weeks now and I am just now getting around to commenting! I usually read it at work where I have a little more time on my hands and it definitely makes me night more enjoyable! I love reading about all your adventures and can't help but be a wee bit jealous! It's amazing how beautiful this world is. I hope one day I will be able to experience what you're experiencing right now! Keep up the great writing and photography. I am thoroughly enjoying it all. Take care and can't wait to see you in a few months. We miss you! Love, Tani

  3. I'm happy you're enjoying the blog Tani - I'm enjoying writing it. This way I can remember what I did 6 months from now! Take care and give the kids a hug!