Snow sculpting

32nd Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition

Final preparations are being done to get ready for the 32nd Annual Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition. The free, family-friendly winter event hosted by the Rockford Park District is scheduled to be held in Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. Second St., Rockford, IL, January 17-20, 2018. Teams will come from all over the state to Rockford to compete for the right to represent Illinois in the U.S. Nationals Snow Sculpting Competition; there is also a high school division. The massive works of art also bring roughly 30,000 visitors to Sinnissippi Park every year.

Since this event began in 1986, the Park District has had to rely on Mother Nature to provide enough snow for the competition to take place. For the last three years, the District has been able to utilize district-owned snowmaking machines to make snow which has allowed the competition to go on. This year, the District made more than enough snow for the competition over the holidays as extremely cold temperatures provided perfect snowmaking conditions. “This event is something that doesn’t happen anywhere else in Illinois, so people come from far and wide to see the snow sculptures. I always encourage guests to walk or drive through Sinnissippi Park during the competition and especially on Saturday to encourage the teams and see their masterpieces.  With temperatures forecasted to be in the 40’s this weekend, there is no guarantee that these snow sculptures will last for long, so earlier is better,” says John Beck, Events & Recreation Projects Manager.

About the Competition

Eight teams from Illinois will compete, with the winner advancing to the 2019 U.S. Nationals Snow Sculpting Competition in Lake Geneva, WI. One exhibition team (the winner of last year’s Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition, and competing in this year’s U.S. Nationals in Lake Geneva) will also carve a sculpture. Sixteen area high school teams will participate in the High School Division. The High School Division competition will take place January 18-20, 2018.

Competition Timeline

State teams will begin sculpting on Wednesday, January 17, 2018. High school teams begin sculpting at approximately 11 a.m. on Thursday, January 18, 2018.  Sculpting will end at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at which time judging will take place. The public is encouraged to cast their vote for the People’s Choice award between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on January 20, and winners will be announced at the awards ceremony that day at 1 p.m. in the Sinnissippi Park maintenance building.

Competition Rules

Three sculptors make up a state team, and high school teams have four sculptors. The sculptors may not use any power tools or pre-fabricated molds. Teams use axes, machetes, water buckets, shovels, saws, ice chisels, and homemade scraping tools. Each team is assigned (by lottery) a block of snow that is 6 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 10 feet high. Finished pieces may not expand beyond 12 feet in diameter, but height is unlimited. High school blocks are 4 feet wide, 4 feet long, and 6 feet high.

Viewing Information

Sinnissippi Park is open to the public for sculpture viewing while weather permits. Viewing hours are daily from sunrise until 10:30 p.m. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome. Visitors may drive or walk through the park; visitors are encouraged to take the time to walk through, to maximize their experience, and allow them to view the sculptures from all sides. Limited parking is available at Sinnissippi Park.  Additional parking is available at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens just west of Sinnissippi Park across N. Second St.

The Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition is hosted by the Rockford Park District and received an $8,000 grant for the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition from the Community Grants Program of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, with support from the Community Arts & Humanities Fund. This event is also partially supported by a grant from the Rockford Area Arts Council, which receives support from the City of Rockford, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and its members.

Major donors/sponsors for 2018 are ABC Catering, American Rigging & Millwright, Catalyst Design & Photography, City of Rockford, Creative Crane & Rigging, Giovanni’s Restaurant & Convention Center, Hilton Garden Inn Rockford, Lino’s Restaurant, Pizza Ranch, Rock River Water Reclamation District, Stockholm Inn, The Olympic Tavern, Texas Roadhouse, WIFR-TV, William Charles Construction, and Winnebago County Highway Department. Please look for 2018 block sponsors on site near each sculpture.

For more information, and to view sculpting progression, visit or Facebook, Feel free to post photos using #ilsnowsculpting.