Leading The Way in Ice Excellence For The New Millennium
This year's two-week long competition is definitely shaping up to be the best ever! With somewhere between 100-120 entries being by created by renowned ice artists, and ice carving teams from all over the United States, Canada and around the world. While I was away from Fairbanks for the last two years amazing things have taken place in ICE ALASKA. So many things in fact that I don't quite know where to begin.
First of all in that last two years the event has nearly doubled in size. ICE ALASKA 2000 has so many entries now, that they have opened a huge new area to accommodate ice art sculptures.
Gone are the days of that plastic Day-Glo orange construction fencing stretched around the park. They have built a nice 8' wooden fence around the park. Gone is the MASH Korean War vintage concessions hospitality tent, where many a visitor warmed-up quaffing large amounts of coffee and hot cocoa. In it's place is a modern building with a cafeteria, rest rooms, and that all important store with wall to wall Ice Alaska memorabilia.
Another area of marked difference in Ice Art 2000 is its newly expanded and enhanced kiddie park. Back in 1997 the kiddie park consisted of and area about the size of a baseball diamond in which they had a few ICE WHIRLIES, (These basket shaped things you load your kid in and spin) They had a bear's head with a large mouth that your kid could pose in and toddlers Alligator ice slide. From those humble beginnings Ice Alaska's Children's ice park has expanded tenfold into a spectacular FOUR ACRE layout of mazes, giant ice slides, Ice carousels, a Pokemon park filled with a dozen or more Pokemon characters from that hit television series and special tactile ice encounters stations where children can interactively and play with items made out of ice. Ice Alaska has truly become a wonderland.
Champion Ice sculpture Carl Eady at hard work cutting dozens of ice slabs from huge block that are later assembled into giant ice slides, mazes, and many other delights.
During the week prior to Ice Alaska Opening I spent time over a several days talking to Carl while he and his team laboured on assembling a 60' Ice Octopus slide. Carl Eady a big-hearted generous man who's vision of what the children's Ice park could be has turned it into what it is today.
The following from is a taped interview of myself and Carl Eady:
Carl: Yes that's right, I designed the Kiddie park two years ago (1998) Then last year Kevin Laughlin and I took over working on the kiddie park trying to make it a lot bigger and better. And a lot of what we did last year has made what you now see possible. This year I got an early start of it and redesigned everything out here. And its been really great with everyone putting so much time and effort into this thing. They're really doing a great job getting all of this set up for the kids.
During the year I drive a school bus, so normally deal a lot with kids anyway. I have five of my own and I lost two to muscular dystrophy a few years back so that 's the reason I do things for children all the time. Even in my designs for Ice Alaska's competitions I enter, I always try to incorporate children's themes in my designs. I think you can see that I tend to be pretty sympathetic to children, I like them to have fun.
Alaskan Dreams: Is it true that you originally came up with this concept in '97?
Carl: Yes in '97 I came up with the idea of having a bigger slide as well as many of the other things that you see here now.
Alaskan Dreams: Right. I heard that your original concept had something to do with children being able to be interactive with the ice?
Carl: Yes, Interactive with the ice. And that idea was actually begun a few years ago. They had a small kids park with these little twirlies. (1997)
Alaskan Dreams: Yes I remember that there really wasn't a lot out there that year. They had a bear , a small alligator slide . . . and these little spin things.
Carl: Yes, the three twirlies. The interactive idea was actually first done there by one of the sculptor's from France.
Yeah and Mapco usually donates a certain amount of money to Ice Alaska and to tell you the truth they were kind of disappointed that year with the kiddie park. And so was I, so I took it over, and said from now on I'm going to take care of this kiddie park and I'm going to make something out of it. And that's why we are where we are now.
Alaskan Dreams: And this year you've included Pokemon ice designs Could you tell me a little about that?
Carl: Yeah. I asked a lot of kids on the school bus to give me Pokemon designs and their best drawings. We'll give them a free pass to Ice Alaska for the kids drawing we chose to make sculptures from. and then we'll put their name along with their drawing next to the Pokemon. That pretty much covers the Pokemon section of the park.
Russian carvers working on them have done a terrific job and I think the kids
are going to have a lot of fun with them.