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Local News / Entertainment

Thursday, 26 December, 2013 6:18 PM

Zehnder's Snowfest returns for 23rd year, Jan. 22 - 27, in Frankenmuth, Mich.

New features include a 500-block masterpiece highlighting Iconic Symbols of Michigan and a Battle of the DJs competition


Overview of the 21st Annual Zehnder's Snowfest in Jan. 25, 2012.


by Jason Rzucidlo



FRANKENMUTH, Mich. -- The 23rd Annual Zehnder's Snowfest kicks off on Jan. 22 and runs through the 27 along Main Street in downtown Frankenmuth, Mich. It is widely known as one of the largest snow and ice carving festivals in North America. In addition, there will be live entertainment, fireworks, a petting zoo and a host of children's activities.

New this year is Pure Michigan's 500-block masterpiece featuring Iconic Symbols of Michigan. The Snowfest will once again host the U.S. National Collegiate Ice Carving Competition, State of Michigan Snow Sculpting Competition and the High School Snow Sculpting Competition. Several carving teams from the metro Detroit area will be participating.

"Some of the things you can look forward to--once again the consistency--of having the best snow carvers and ice carvers in the country, if not the world, participate in the Zehnder's Snowfest," said John Shelton, vice president of sales and marketing at Zehnder's of Frankenmuth. "We're going to be having a display, which is going to be really interesting, it's kind of like a 500-block masterpiece highlighting Iconic Symbols of Michigan by the Pure Michigan tourism team. We think that's going to be a very big crowd pleaser. We've got our Battle of the DJs, which is new. We're partnering with CK 105 and WIOG for Thursday's night event that it's in our warming tent. Saturday night is always the spectacular Snowfest Fireworks."

Most people are probably wondering how the Snowfest will be different from last year.

"I can't give away all of the secrets and I don't know if different is the right word, but there will always be a new twist," Shelton added. "It will be unique in the sense of we've got some of the best carvers, like I said, in the world. We do have a team from Morocco this year, we have a team scheduled from China, France. I've been looking at some of the artist renderings, just the creativity, I think has even gone up a notch compared to last year and previous years."

Friday is always my favorite day to come on down. Please tell me more about what's being offered on Country Night.

"We do a partnership with 98 KCQ, they have their karaoke contest," the vice president of sales and marketing explained. "They will be awarding their winners. Then, we have our country music band, The Steel Wheels, that has a great following. We look forward to another fantastic country night on Jan. 24."

For the families, what's going to be at Snowfest for the kids?

"We have the putt putt ice golf, pony rides, chicken bowling, a petting zoo, face painting, all kinds of wonderful things for kids. A lot for young and old alike to come and enjoy."

I understand one of the local TV stations will be anchoring the news from the Snowfest.

"Yes, WNEM-TV 5 will be doing their Thursday afternoon show live from Zehnder's Snowfest grounds and then Friday evening, they'll be doing another live show with Katie O'Mara and Carrie Sharp anchoring. In previous years, we've made the desk out of snow. We're actually doing it a little bit different this year. The anchors desk is going to be made out of ice and will be part of the 500-block display of the Iconic Symbols of the State of Michigan. We're looking forward to it. They do a great job and they're excited to be here. I think it will give people a nice opportunity to see a live appreciation of how a news broadcast is put together."

Many people who go to Frankenmuth also stop in Birch Run on their way up from Detroit. How is Premium Outlets collaborating with you guys?

"They are one of our major sponsors," Shelton said. "They've always been very supportive of Zehnder's Snowfest. It is one of the largest promotions that has a very positive impact on their business cycle between Snowfest and their Deer Widow's Weekend, two of their busiest weekends. They will also have exposure in our warming tent. I know they have a booth. I think they are going to be handing out coupons for all of the wonderful stores at Premium Outlets. They are a great partner to have I tell you that."

Are there going to be ice or snow carvers from the metro Detroit area?

"Yeah, we have teams from all over the state," he added. "I don't have that in front of me, but I can tell you we do have several teams from the metro Detroit area in the state competition, which is right across the street from us in the Bavarian Inn parking lot. If I'm not mistaking, we have about eight of them from the general metro Detroit area. Definitely in that category. We have two teams in our single block competition also from the Detroit metro area. It's a great market for us. In fact, the majority of the audience is between our Detroit metro market and the Great Lakes Bay region market. We appreciate all of the support, not only from the Snowfest from that market, but all year round. I think our friends from the metro Detroit market enjoy coming to Frankenmuth year round."

If folks can't make to Snowfest over that week, will the ice sculptures remain on display afterwards?

"Historically, yes. But how long the displays, I have to be honest with you, mother nature determines that. Depending on the weather, we've been fortunate that it's been up anywhere from seven to 10 days after Snowfest. In some years, it's been up seven to 10 hours after Snowfest. One thing we won't do, once the snow blocks and the ice start deteriorating, we start knocking them down. I would say those who want to avoid the crowd on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, typically Monday is a good day for great photo opportunities for people unless we have a really, really warm spell. Monday should work out just fine."

Please tell me more about the Chef's Hot Food Competition and Tasting.

"It is sponsored by the American Culinary Federation Flint/Saginaw Valley Chapter," the vice president of sales and marketing explained. "It is a great event. This year's theme is called Paris in the Moonlight. It's a culinary salute to Italy, which will be featuring a lot of Italian seafood, poultry and pork. It's prepared by local chefs. They are actually competing against one another for different categories. They have a first, second, third, people's choice. These are all chefs that are members of that American Culinary Federation Chapter. After that competition, the public comes in, tickets are $30 each, it helps support the Saginaw and Genesee Head Start Program, feeding kids breakfast in those school systems. The public comes in and gets to eat all of the food that were prepared by the culinary chefs. We anticipate anywhere from 500 to 600 people in that particular program."

For those of you who love the Motown--or the Meridian Winter Blast, it's time to take a trip up north for the Zehnder's Snowfest. It will blow you away...

Click here to view the complete schedule of events for the 2014 Zehnder's Snowfest.

Related Stories: Detroit Tigers caravan to make a stop at the 2013 Zehnder's Snowfest; 21st Annual Zehnder's Snowfest Schedule of Events; The 2011 Zehnder's Snowfest wraps up today in Frankenmuth; 20th Annual Zehnder's Snowfest is now underway in Frankenmuth




Putt Putt Ice Golf is a popular activity for the kids.



The Steel Wheels Band will once again entertain audiences on Friday night (Jan. 24) following the 98 KCQ Karaoke Competition.



Frozen chicken bowling


Photo credit: American Culinary Federation Flint/Saginaw Valley Chapter

The Chef's Hot Food Competition and Tasting wraps up the Snowfest on Monday, Jan. 27. Tickets are $30 each.








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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.