One of the signature events of the annual McCall Winter Carnival is the giant images carved in blocks of snow. But many people don’t know that the Carnival hosts two separate snow sculpting competitions. One is sponsored by local businesses and teams can use power tools and chicken wire to build their masterpieces.
The other contest is the Idaho State Snow Sculpting Championship. This contest is more rigid: no power tools or wire, and the competition can get quite intense. Sculptor Rich Brown is a regular winner. He’ll be back again this year, after he competes in Driggs this week at the Teton Valley Great Snow Fest.
For his day job, Brown works as a chef in Meridian. When he’s not working in snow, he’s carving ice sculptures. He says that he’s “done ice” for years, starting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“I got into ice in hotels. We did banquets. In the 80’s we had a seafood buffet every week, we did a prime rib buffet every week, we did a big brunch, so we did ice all the time,” Brown says.
He says he learned as he went along. The first one he did, he followed along with another chef.
“He had a block of ice and I had a block of ice. He did a cut, then I did a cut, and I learned on the first one. He helped me a lot.”
Brown moved to Idaho in 2005 and when up to the McCall Winter Carnival the next year to see the snow sculptures. He was hooked. He started learning how to sculpt snow. He’s been doing it ever since.
Winning the Idaho State Snow Sculpting Championship four times in a row is no easy task. Brown says working with a giant block of snow can be tough.
“You know it’s difficult to get coloring out of it, all you can do is shade and you can do some textual difference, a little shiny or a little rougher that way, but those are challenges you’ve got to deal with.”
Brown says he and his two teammates will try for a fifth consecutive win at the State Snow Sculpting Championship in McCall next week.
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