McCALL, Idaho – A dragon more than two stories tall, a larger-than-life wizard’s head with a built-in kids’ slide and entwined, leaping swordfish helped this small resort town make its case to be “the snow sculpting capital of the Northwest.” Teams of artists crafted more than thirty large and whimsical snow sculptures, which rose in the front yards or parking lots of sponsoring businesses and in a lakefront park.
The elaborate snow sculptures have become one of the main attractions of McCall’s 10-day Winter Carnival. Thousands of people streamed into McCall for the final weekend of the festival. In fact, the crush of gawkers caused a long traffic jam at midday Saturday, a rarity in rural Idaho.
The monstrous “Smaug Over the Mountain” won the Grand Prize of the 2013 Winter Carnival. The sculpture, built at the Holiday Inn Express/Hunt Lodge, was inspired by the dragon from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” To build the masterpiece, the sculptors cut slabs of ice from the frozen surface of Payette Lake. The dragon lorded over a walk-through ice cave in which Gollum, another Middle Earth character, crouched in a niche.
Rain that fell last weekend and warm sunshine on the closing weekend softened details on some of the snow sculptures. The McCall Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the Winter Carnival, offered an additional cash prize for best maintenance to encourage sculptors to touch up their creations during the run of the festival.