An extravaganza of winter activities can be found in Ham Lake next weekend.
The eighth annual Ham Lake Snowbowl is Friday, Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 8 at Ham Lake Park in Ham Lake. The entrance is a mile east of Highway 65 on 153rd Avenue.
This is truly a regional event with attendance reaching over 3,500 in some years, according to Chris Mickman, chairperson of the Snowbowl Committee.
Although most activities are Saturday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mickman loves watching the snow sculptors at work Friday, Feb. 7. The blank canvases are blocks of snow that are seven feet tall for the adults and three feet tall for the kids.
“When we first started we just had piles of snow and not much participation,” Mickman said of the early years of the snow sculpture contest.
“Over the last five years we have built snow blocks with the city’s help, so it’s easy of fun to make works of art. We have sculptors coming from all over Minnesota and some from the Winter Carnival. It’s a showplace.”
Snow sculptors who are interested in coming to the Snowbowl can call Mickman at 763-434-4678.
The snow sculpture artists can begin working on their creations at noon Friday, Feb. 7 and work through the evening because lighting will be available. A large, heated tent and snacks will also be provided to them.
Saturday, Feb. 8 is jam-packed with activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. although the broomball tournament runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Everybody must purchase a $3 Snowbowl button, which buys you admission and one free guess on when the metal Ham Lake Snowbowl sculpture will fall through the ice. A fifth-grade McKinley Elementary student had the winning design for the eighth annual Ham Lake Snowbowl button.
Buttons can be purchased in advance at these Ham Lake businesses: Holtz Garden Center. Mickman Garden Center, 21st Century Bank, Majestic Oaks Golf Club and Ham Lake Lanes. Buttons can also be purchased at the event.
The sculpture was designed and crafted by Ham Lake artist David Estrada and first displayed at the fifth annual Ham Lake Snowbowl in 2011. Calculating when this 11-foot tall metal sculpture is going to crack through the ice is obviously a challenging task. It fell through March 30 in 2012 and March 13 in 2013.
The grand prize is $500 for the person who has the closest guess on the day and time the sculpture will fall through the ice.
Ride your snowmobile in, especially the vintage models, to display it and to participate in the snowmobile ride. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the ride begins 10 a.m. and will include a couple of stops before the group returns to the Snowbowl around 1 p.m.
Sled dog races and the 5K Arctic Challenge begin at 11 a.m. and go on separate courses throughout Ham Lake Park before finishing near the center of activities on the lake.
Sled dog rides are from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the lake.
The strongest dogs are welcome to try the dog pull competition at noon.
Bring your skates to try out the free skating area that will be open throughout the Snowbowl.
You could also bring your fishing pole to participate in the Boy Scout’s ice fishing contest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The registration fee is $15 per adult and $10 per child. Tickets can be purchased at Holtz Landscape & Irrigation, 15245 Highway 65 NE. Bait can be purchased at the Snowbowl. Prizes will be awarded around 1:45 p.m.
To get an overhead view of the Snowbowl and the Ham Lake area, take a helicopter ride.
When taking a break between all these events, grab a hot beverage and snacks from food vendors and go inside the large, heated tent to get warm and learn about more than 25 local businesses in the business expo. There will also be a silent auction inside the tent, ending at 2:30 p.m.
The first clue in the medallion hunt will be posted Monday, Feb. 3 on the Ham Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s website at www.hamlakecc.org.
Up to seven clues could be posted on the website until the Snowbowl that following weekend, but be quick because somebody could decipher the clues and find the medallion in a hurry and win $500.
The person who finds the medallion must bring it to Holtz Landscape & Irrigation to claim their prize.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org