Vermont’s weather is as idiosyncratic as her people. Preparations for Barre’s snow sculpture contest, part of the week-long Winterfest celebration, began with large blocks of snow being assembled in two local parks and on the lawn of the Aldrich Public Library to serve as the “supply” for the contest. Wooden forms were erected and tightly packed with snow to form giant blocks just right for carving. No one could accuse Old Man Winter of being Yankee frugal this year; he’s certainly not been miserly with the snow, a fact to which my aching back is testament. So the preparations began with high spirits fueled by the seasonal temperatures and abundance of snow. But just as the giant snow blocks were being removed from their wooden molds, the weather took a turn faster than my stomach did when I heard Rosanne Barr sing the national anthem. Temperatures shot into the 40s and 50s, leaving the blocks a bit drippy and the would-be sculptors a bit forlorn. But faster than a politician can break a promise, down went the temperatures again, saving the blocks and the sculpture contest. By last Saturday, the first day of the sculpting, Barre’s intrepid snow artisans faced ambient temperatures in the low teens and gusting wintry blasts of up to 46 miles per hour.
The fruits of their labors are nothing less than inspiring, so I’ve created an album on our Facebook page so you can take a gander yourself. It would be mighty difficult to choose a favorite, but I thought a sculpture entitled “What’s For Dinner?” depicting an owl eyeing a mouse especially amused me. (PETA members should absolutely walk past this one and stroll over to “King Winter”, here depicted as a king on his icy throne, beloved pet dog at his side.) There were also large and small versions of our State House, a carousel with very realistic critters waiting to convey you on your winter fantasy, a scary shark with menacing icy teeth, a giant muffin with enough snow “carbs” to render Jenny Craig apoplectic, a fantastical dragon, a playful duck on her back splashing in the water, a toothy polar bear, and a giant pug, among others.
If you are in Barre during the next week, please do stop by to see them all and to take in ther winterfest activities. On Friday, February 25th, you ladies may wish to avail yourselves of the guided cross country ski and snowshoe tour under the stars. It begins at 6 p.m. at Millstone Hill. Also at Millstone and cosponsored by Barre Boy Scout troop # 714 is ice skating on one of Barre’s historic quarries. The great ambiance of the natural quarry backdrop will be further enriched by lighting and music. Skating is open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, February 26th, there will be a toboggan run, so bring your sled. hat same day enter the Cross Country "Poker Run” at Millstone and then join them for an old fashioned sugar-on-snow party.
Please contact Millstone Hill for all the pertinent details: 802-476-1000.
If you can’t join us for the fun, please do take a moment to enjoy the photos in our Facebook album of Barre’s 2011 snow sculptures.
Todd Paton has more than 20 years of experience working in the Vermont tourism industry. Currently the Director of Visitor Services for Rock of Ages, one of Vermont's oldest, continuously operating attractions, he has served on the board of directors of the Central Vermont Chamber and the Vermont Hospitality Council. He is an active member of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and the Vermont Tourism Network. He is a past Chair and current member of the board of directors of Vermont Attractions Association, a consortium of Vermont attractions established in 1956 to promote the highest standards of hospitality among Vermont's tourism-related properties.