They came from as far away as Rochester, Minnesota, and as close by as Audubon: Five teams of competitive carvers gathered outside the Detroit Lakes Pavilion this past Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9, to take part in the inaugural Multi-Block Ice Carving Competition that was one of several new events planned for the "MN Sn'Ice: A Snow and Ice Showcase," which kicked off DL's annual Polar Fest celebration in style.

A panel of three judges reviewed the five sculptures late Saturday afternoon, with the winners being announced as part of the Grand Lighting Ceremony for King Isbit's Royal Courtyard and Palatial Playground (postponed from Thursday due to poor driving conditions in the lakes area).

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First place went to Trevor Pearson, Minneapolis, and his carving partner Nick Lensing, Rochester, whose lifelike sculpture of a "Bucking Cowboy" - complete with cowboy waving his hat in his hand - was judged to be the most impressive. Pearson said the sculpture was inspired by rancher Dick Ames, the grandfather of one of his close friends, who passed away recently.

Second place went to Jay Ray of West Fargo, whose "Have a Crappy Day" sculpture of a pair of crappies jumping in the water was both elegant and intricate.

Third place went to local competitor Brian Beto, Audubon, and his brother Scott Beto, Backus, whose "Northwoods Cabin" scene included some beautiful pine trees surrounding a cabin on a lake.

Also drawing considerable attention on social media was the "Home Voyage" sculpture by Moorhead's "Chainsaw Dave" Belling and Jason Marsh, Fargo, which depicted Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen - a Detroit Lakes native - coming into shore aboard a Viking ship, and the tallest structure, "Last Cast," a large northern pike caught on a hook, which was created by the Twin Cities pair of John Cooper and John Njoes.

The postponed lighting ceremony also drew a nice crowd of visitors, with young Kate Frank being given the honor of pressing the button that lit up the throne and surrounding courtyard.

The throne and surrounding ice furniture, "fire in ice" pits and all five ice sculptures from the MN Sn'Ice competition will be on display throughout Polar Fest, which ends Feb. 18. All of the ice structures will also be lit with LED lights each night. 

Weekend visitors may have noticed the large wooden structures near the ice sculptures in the City Park; these are snow forms that are filled with tightly packed snow, which will be used for another new event, a Snow Sculpture Competition featuring high school students from Detroit Lakes, Frazee-Vergas, Lake Park-Audubon and Circle of Life Academy, which gets underway at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 and continues until 2:30 p.m. Be sure to come down to the park and catch all the action, as well as the many other Polar Fest events taking place this coming week. A complete schedule is available at www.polarfestdl.com and www.iceharvestdl.org.