Sculptures display student creativity


— It takes a community to make sure the annual snow sculpture competition is pulled off for the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival.

The core group is 16 teams of three-to-six local high school students, who pick out designs and carve the sculptures in the snow in front of businesses in downtown Steamboat Springs.

The sculptures will line the streets for the week of the Winter Carnival. The young sculptors can create whatever they want, as long as it has some connection to the carnival's theme or the western culture of Northwest Colorado.

There are many adults behind the scene that make sure everything goes as planned.

"It truly is a community effort," said Kate Parke.

Parke organizes the teams at the school. After her, there is a panel of administrators, teachers and school officials who choose which 15 teams from the Steamboat Springs High School and the one team from Christian Heritage School get to participate. The students must defend their designs to the panel. Also, more teams usually enter than there are spots open in the competition, so the field needs to be narrowed.

From there, school counselor Mike Campbell helps the students with their designs, working out any problems they may have.

While that is happening, Sandy Pugh lines up downtown business owners who want sculptures in front of their stores. The same businesses usually volunteer each year. Each business provides hot drinks to the students and a cash donation to the school, which is used to buy recreation equipment.

City of Steamboat Springs employees Doug Marsh and Ron Berig make sure the snow gets to each sculpting site in front of the businesses on Feb. 5. They organize city snow moving equipment to pack the snow in wooden forms between 2 and 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, school athletic director Bruce Crowhurst is on the ground at the time, making sure all the sites have the wooden forms ready for the snow packing.

The students go to work on Feb. 6, usually getting the whole day off of school to snow sculpt. "They bring all the stuff -- water buckets, ladder and music. It's a pretty fun time," Parke said.

Campbell is on scene all day too. He helps out with any problems the teenagers may be having with their project.

A second panel of judges from the business community, which is organized by Pugh, tours all the sculptures on the night of Feb. 6 and awards first, second and third place prizes.

This year's prizes are chamber bucks -- $90 for the first one, $60 for second place and $30 for third place. The competition is one of the more creative traditions in Winter Carnival and is cherished by both locals and tourists alike.


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