The scene around little Nicky Benfield was chaotic.
While the 7-year-old alien sat in her cardboard UFO, face painted green, Honey Bee and Cap'n Crunch had a snowball fight, and Tony the Tiger and Fred Flintstone watched from the safety of their cardboard cereal bowl.
From the looks of the fight, the participants had their Wheaties for breakfast. For the record, Wheaties did not have a representative among the Cereal Killers.
Welcome to the 25th annual SmartWool Cardboard Classic, an event for all ages and creativity levels. The only rules were that the crafts had to be made exclusively of cardboard, glue, string, water-based paint, duct tape and masking tape.
What people chose to make and display at the Steamboat Ski Area was up to them. There was the standard bus, pirate ship, sled and emergency vehicle, several of which made it successfully down the Headwall ski run intact.
But there also was a gondola car, a working camera, a bulldozer
and the Routt County justice center. All four generated plenty of buzz at the ski area base.
Jim Fletcher isn't sure how much cardboard he, John Morris and Tony Woodyerd used to build the gondola car to exact size, but they did use "at least nine rolls of duct tape and at least three gallons of paint before we got our gondola-gray color," Fletcher said.
As attractive and authentic as the Gondola car was -- it had working windows, outside slots for skis and benches inside -- it was not functional. The car made it less than one-quarter of the way down the run before it topped over, and the contents of the car -- people -- spilled out.
Same goes for the camera. Construction on the cardboard camera, which actually worked except for the focus, began two years ago among Fuji Color Processing employees in Denver. Engineer Patrick Thompson built a small replica camera, and the group of employees and spouses built the largest camera spectators probably had ever seen.
"We're encouraging people to shoot Fuji film," Kathy Green said.
The group transported the cardboard camera, which folded down, on a trailer from Denver.
For the most part, however, participants in Saturday's SmartWool Cardboard Classic were local. And this year, several locals decided to transform news headlines into cardboard crafts.
Take the Steamboat Rugby team, for example. Tired of the controversy surrounding the location of the new Routt County justice center, the rugby team got together and created its own movable Routt County justice center complete with Judge Warpig, also known as Brad Williams.
"Since the county commissioners and the City Council can't get together, the rugby team took it upon themselves to move the justice center," Williams said.
Unfortunately, the justice center didn't move too far. Halfway down, the men inside abandoned all thoughts of descending with the craft intact and ripped it apart on the mountain.
Waste Management provided a Dumpster on site for participants to dispose of their cardboard creations.
The Dumpster is right where "The Grudge" went after it made its way down Headwall, slowly but surely, appropriately enough because it was a bulldozer.
The bulldozer didn't win a prize, but had one for political incorrectness been handed out, the group likely would have won that one.
"We were inspired by current events," Jeremiah Phelps said.
The group modeled the bulldozer after the one used in the Granby incident last summer to destroy multiple buildings in town.
The group spent two days building the bulldozer, using eight rolls of duct tape, three cans of paint and two cans of spray paint.
But not everyone took the competition as seriously. A group of Steamboat Springs Middle School students opted to construct their hobo house right before the event.
"We were in the terrain park this morning and heard the announcement and decided to make it as fast as possible," Grant Murray said. "We made it in five minutes."
It looked like it. The group of boys rummaged through the recycling and found enough cardboard to put together a makeshift house for them to ride down Headwall.
"We're going down," Adrian Pougiales said. "It might not be in the box, but we're getting down."
And they did. Prizes weren't awarded to crafts that successfully raced down Headwall. However, judges from KFMU, SmartWool and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. did hand out trophies based on craftsmanship -- or lack thereof.
The Mad House/Mini Car was named the ugliest craft, though it did make it down the mountain. The gondola car received the most creative award. The most original trophy was awarded to the moving Routt County justice center, and the Cereal Killers were given the potpourri trophy. The Fuji camera received the trophy for best reproduction of person, place or thing.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org