A filmmaker who came to Ely from Florida for the 2nd Annual Ely Film Festival remarked that nearly everyone he has met has apologized to him for the “unseasonable heat” The most popular small talk conversation starter is the tragedy of this year’s Snow Sculpting Symposium in Whiteside Park. “At least the sidewalks are clear and walkable,” I heard someone remark. 

It was an unusual Ely Winter Festival this year, but the Ely Winter Festival steering committee and attendees still made it a very festive ten days! The premier event the Festival offers year after year is the International Snow Sculpting Symposium. 

The Ely Winter Festival Snow Sculpting Symposium takes place the first weekend of the Winter Festival. Sculpting teams have from Thursday through Sunday to create their works of public art. Many of you know that by Monday morning, the temporal nature of snow sculptures was on full display. Then it rained for several days. 

The Ely Folk School had an Intro to Snow Sculpting class scheduled for the second weekend of February, taught by Wade Pharr. Wade Pharr serves as the Ely Folk School Ceramics Studio Manager and has been crafting snow sculptures for 23 years. He brings tenacity and experience of sculpting in nearly every type of snow. 

and were getting a bit discouraged. But not Wade. We looked at the forecast, then we looked at Wade, then we looked at the grass in the Ely Folk School yard, looked back at Wade and said, so… Should we go ahead and cancel the class? Wade did not want to do any such thing. And boy are we grateful for the sheer force of his will! 

To make the Intro to Snow Sculpting class happen, Wade coordinated with the City of Ely to get a truckload of snow from the Ely Airport dropped off at the Ely Folk School. He then stopped by EFS each day to create snow blocks and protect them from the rain. Here are the fruits of his labor! Six new snow sculptors and three sculptures that you can stop by and see in the Ely Folk School driveway.