Braced against the cold wind, visitors explore the snow sculptures at the annual Winter Carnival in McCall, Idaho. This 10-day festival celebrates the ingenuity of snow sculptors who dazzle attendees with enormous creations in snow. Two different competitions are held.
The first competition is among local businesses that complete their sculptures before the carnival begins. In 2015, the Hunt Lodge earned the Grand Prize for their sculpture entitled “Davy Jones Locker”. Other sculptures include a piggy bank, a tiered cake, and a large display of characters from Star Wars. Overall, 38 businesses created sculptures for this competition.
The second competition is the Idaho State Snow Sculpting Championships. This is held in Depot Park with competitors from all over the Northwest vying for the title. Sculpting begins on Tuesday morning during the carnival and judging is held on Friday morning. Visitors can wander among these sculptures in progress and ask questions as they watch extravagant creations slowly emerge from the 5’ wide by 5’ deep by 8’ tall blocks of snow. The sculptors brave the weather conditions while using saws, shovels, chisels, and a myriad of other tools to create their works of art.
While the snow sculptures are arguably the highlight of any visit during carnival, each day of the event also features other attractions and events. For example, a Mardi Gras parade makes its way through the center of town on the first Saturday of the carnival. This is a huge draw for the kids as many of the parade participants throw candy to the spectators. Other activities include a karaoke night just for high schoolers, snowshoe golf, bike races, and fireworks shows.
Nestled at the southern shore of the 5,300 acre Payette Lake, the community has a variety of restaurants and drinking establishments to serve the locals, visitors to the local ski resorts, and the many owners of second homes in the area.
The Chamber of Commerce, right downtown on Lake Street, publishes the list of sculpture locations in addition to the event schedule.