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Snow Sculpting in St Paul, Minnesota

USA | Saturday, 23 May 2015 | Views [114] | Scholarship Entry

So what on earth were two Aussies doing in the middle of Minnesota in January, slap bang in the midst of a long, harsh winter, armed with brand spanking new snow boots, super-warm beanies and the least-attractive underwear you’ll ever see? (There are some things you must sacrifice in order to keep yourself from turning into a human ice block—lacy undies are one of them.) Well, for us, living in Washington DC for two years was also a chance to experience as much of the mighty USA as we possibly could before running out of time, money, and patience with each other. It was our quest to see the ‘real’ America, to experience the many quirky, sometimes off-the-wall, ‘only in America’ things that led us to St Paul, Minnesota, in January 2014, for the St Paul Winter Carnival. It’s held every year with all sorts of festivities, including parades, ice carvings, music, even a half-marathon through downtown St Paul. But it was the snow sculpting competition that completely amazed us, and further cemented my love for this wonderfully diverse country.

We took the almost empty number 3 bus from just near our hotel to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, about 6 miles from downtown St Paul. We got a bit lost after the bus dropped us off at the bus stop—clearly most people drove, and the main entrance was on the other side of the fairgrounds. A lack of signs meant we trudged around in the snow trying to find our bearings for a bit before spying the big ‘snow slide’ in the distance. We followed the sounds of the loud speaker and music playing to the middle of the fairgrounds where the snow sculptors were hard at work. The sculptures were amazing (and HUGE) and each was completed by a team of three people, with weird and crazy equipment and instruments to create their sculptures from what began as a huge block of snow.

We wandered around for a while in the almost blizzard-like conditions, exclaiming in amazement at the different sculptures, cast our votes for the Peoples’ Choice award, then took some shelter in the warming hut—a big tent with the sides flapping in the bitter wind, metal tables and chairs sitting on the icy ground, big industrial heaters blasting out gusts of hot air and festival volunteers serving up hot dogs and bowls of scalding hot chili from steaming bain maries. We snagged a couple of chairs, spooned the chili over our hot dogs, stamped our feet on the hard ground and hungrily downed our food, feeling it warm up our insides. Two Aussies in Minnesota…

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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