Ham Lake Snowbowl a success with a little extra help

by Eric Hagen
Staff Writer

There may not have been any natural snow, but the Ham Lake Snowbowl was still able to go on thanks to man-made snow and cold temperatures that kept the ice sheet over Ham Lake thick.

Click image to view photo gallery of the Ham Lake Snowbowl.

The sixth annual Snowbowl took place at Ham Lake Park Feb. 10. The Snowbowl Committee purchased snow to make it possible to have the snow sculpting competition, dog sled pull and dog sled rides, according to Snowbowl Committee Chairperson Chris Mickman.

The ice was thick enough for the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office to issue a permit to allow people on the ice, but not cars or trucks. The helicopter rides were still able to go on.

Although the ice thickness of 12 to 14 inches was more than enough for these activities, Mickman said reports about unsafe ice from television and other news sources is one possible reason that attendance was significantly lower this year compared with 2010 and 2011. The news reports focused on vehicles falling through the ice in areas where they should not have been, he said.

The temperature being colder than the last two years may have also played a role, Mickman said.

Click here to purchase photo reprints

But he said the food vendor estimated that 2,000 to 2,500 people still came to the event.

“All in all, the event was a resounding success, and the fact that we were able to have snow sculptures really set us apart, and I think people appreciated our efforts to make that part of our event a success, especially our sponsor Mercy and Unity Foundation,” Mickman said.

Some professional sculptors, such as Glenn Terry of East Bethel and Theodore Ricks of Minneapolis, came out to the frozen lake for a little while Feb. 10 to begin carving their sculptures. Terry has worked with granite and marble. He created a statue in the Church of St. Paul. He painted a large mural that is located on the Minneapolis Greenway.

“It’s nice to work on a large medium in a short amount of time,” Terry said regarding working on a snow sculpture at the Snowbowl. It may take a couple of years to work on a statue of the same size that has harder material to work with, he said. The snow sculpture he created showed a man and a woman embracing. He called it “Forever, Love.” He was trying to show divine love rather than human love in this creation, Terry said.

Rick employed his father James’ help to create a Buddha statue. The inspiration came from James’ recent trip to India.

This is the second year Rick has come from Minneapolis to carve a snow sculpture at the Ham Lake Snowbowl. He heard about the event from his friend Terry. Seeing all these sculptors creating these works of art side-by-side is a great feeling, Rick said.

“It’s a community on the ice,” Rick said.

This community of snow sculptors, which included amateur artists, would not have been possible if the Snowbowl Committee had not purchased snow for this event. Pat Mogren of St. Paul said that the St. Paul Winter Carnival was unable to have a snow sculpting competition.

“I’m glad you were able to pull it off mister,” Mogren said to Mickman, while they were standing next to Mogren’s pirate snow sculpture.

This year’s medallion hunt winner was Ham Lake resident Darrell Obodzinski and his family. They found the medallion Feb. 9 lying under some brush at Ham Lake Park. He received $500 for winning the medallion hunt.

The steel Snowbowl sculpture created last year by Ham Lake artist David Estrada is now standing on the frozen Ham Lake. The person who has the closest guess as to the date and time the sculpture will fall through the ice wins $500. A web camera is pointed at the sculpture so the event organizers can verify when it breaks through the ice.

Visit the Ham Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s website at www.hamlakecc.org to find out what businesses you can visit to purchase your guesses. One guess costs $2 or you could buy eight guess for $10.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]