Monday, February 8, 2016

15 Sunken Cars, 15 Stellar Snow Sculptures, Magic and More At Lake Geneva's Winterfest 2016

Friday and Saturday, I was up in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with the family for a weekend getaway, a couple hours north of Chicago. We just had one of my favorite types of weekends... a photo adventure. And this one was a doozie! 






In an odd symmetry, we were in the right place at the right time to catch 15 parked cars sinking 15 feet into the half frozen lake. And we caught all 15 entries in the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition in progress Friday and finished on Saturday. 








































Man Vs. Mother Nature ends in a 15/15 tie!

Check out our original video here:









Most of all we had a rare weekend of family fun where nobody had to work and both kids were off from meets, and had manageable homework levels. This gets harder to pull off as the kids approach the heart of their tween and teen years so we made the most of it.




Dug took Sage (12) skiing for the second time and she rocked ALL the ski runs at Alpine Valley, even their hardest Black Diamond runs. While the ski loving half of our family enjoyed the slopes Friday and Saturday, my son, Dugan (14) and I enjoyed several small town restaurants in Elkhorn and Lake Geneva, hit a water park, checked out the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition, caught a magic show, and wandered the towns with camera in hand. This mini vacation was not a sponsored travel post in any way, so we won't be linking to attractions, reviewing, or giving specifics on ticketing, times, etc.







Here's a full slideshow photo recap of our adventures and we've embedded more of our favorite shots below. Enjoy!



U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition 
Fifteen teams had Wednesday through Saturday morning at 11am to work their magic on 8x9 foot blocks of snow without power tools. One of our top favorites, "Door Man" scored a well deserved win.







It was cool to talk with the artists and see what far flung states everyone came in from. One of our favorite sculptures was designed by one of the guys on last year's winning team, who rocks big spiral earrings like mine, only white instead of black. This year one of his team mates was back on a different threesome, for some friendly competition. 



The "Crying Wolf" AKA: Sheep for Brains sculpture was designed by the woman carving on the mouth and they came all the way from Maine. Believe it or not, they started as sand sculptors! They said snow is more challenging because the texture changes daily and it's quite different working on it when it's icy versus mushy. They planned to spend their final night before the judging, sanding down their giant head to smooth out the dimpling effects from the sun.





I highly recommend checking out the snow carvings the day before, or pick an odd Saturday early or late time, if you want to see the artists' sketches and scale models. By Saturday afternoon the competition area was uncomfortably mobbed and it was tough to see much detail or stay more than a few seconds at a given sculpture.








Lake Effect 
Speaking of effects from the sun, Friday was mellow, crowd wise and weather wise, for a Wisconsin February. 











People, including my son, were out walking on the frozen lake, flying kites and even confidently driving 4x4 trucks out! Evidently this is common practice for ice fisherman and others and by February of most years the ice is more than thick enough to accommodate the weight.

By Saturday, parking was nearly nonexistent as the town was overrun with eager Winter Fest tourists. 3 rows of cars parked on the lake before our winter long mild streak cracked the ice and sent 15 of them plunging into the lake! Five were able to drive out before things got too insane but the other 10 were quite likely totaled from the water damage, according to a Lake Geneva Police Department news release. By nightfall, the worst ones were in 15 feet of water (there's that 15 again) and required the Department of Natural Resources to use an air boat and a wetsuit diver to hook them up and pull them out. Tow trucks, police and firefighters worked together to rescue the rest.

Overall it was a fast, fun two day getaway.  



Check Out More of Our Photo Favs Here:









































24 comments:

  1. That is so cool. I love looking at all your photos.

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  2. That is some awesome talent. This would be so cool to see.

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  3. Now that's what I call a fun weekend. Those snow carvings are amazing.

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  4. Wow what an incredible weekend you had! Those snow carvings are beautiful!

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  5. Wow I would love to see the snow sculpting in person. It looks incredible and so well done

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  6. I was at Lake Geneva this summer, granted there was no snow. I love making sculptures - nothing like those.

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  7. WOAH! Those snow sculptures are awesome! I would love to see those in person. This is such a fun event to go to! Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures!

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  8. Thanks all. Yes, the 8x9 foot snow sculptures were quite impressive and we had fun talking with the artists as they carved on Friday. The parking lake Saturday was pretty crazy too!

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  9. Wow! Those sculptures are incredible. If Id seen the cars sink... I'd have nightmares for weeks I think! ~Jenn

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  10. What a great place to visit. The sculptures look incredible.

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  11. Wow! The ice sculptures are so intricate and amazing. I saw this on the national news. Were the cars parked on the ice?

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    1. Yes, they were parked on the ice and the deepest car fell in 15 feet of water! I thought it was odd a lot of news outlets said people "Accidentally" parked on the lake. I find that hard to believe, though there was a light dusting of snow so maybe a few people thought they were on solid ground. Evidently people have been winter parking without a problem on the shallower parts of the lake for decades, and it's generally frozen quite solid by this time of the year. Last year it was 30 below wind chill and I'm sure nothing fell through. This winter's been much much milder. Honestly, if you see open water at the shoreline it's probably a bad plan to park 3 rows of cars anywhere near there!

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  12. I read about this when I was working. People should know better than to park cars on ice LOL. Lovely pictures!

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    1. Thank you! Photography is a passion of mine. Yeah, hindsight is 20/20. Seems like a no brainer, but I guess if the ice has been solid there for February for ages people don't question... Infinitely glad we found a parking spot in town! Still, we got there early in the AM and spots were already hard to come by. We got lucky and someone was pulling out. Driving around in a fest induced traffic jam can make people take stupid risks and make poor choices.

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  13. I'm in complete awe over these snow sculptures. What amazing talent these people have!

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  14. I've never seen anything like these sculptures! they are amazing.

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  15. Looks amazing, I can't believe they really sink all those cars!

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  16. Looks like quite the exciting weekend with lots of photo opportunities!

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  17. Awesome adventure you had! I really love posts that shares images they captured that moment. Feels like I was with them all along :)

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  18. What a lovely place to visit i really love the sculptures

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  19. Now that is a winter adventure!
    I did hear about those cars sinking! Crazy!

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  20. These sculptures are amazing. I would love to spend the day here. The poor people whose cars were sinking.

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  21. These are some amazing sculptures! I would love to spend some time there!
    -Tonya C

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