Attendees: 2017 Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth is a big hit

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FRANKENMUTH, Mich. — You may have seen ice sculptures before…but how about giant sculptures made out of snow? There are dozens of them on display at the 2017 Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth, Mich.

“It’s going to be a knight chess piece, but we’re hopefully going to make it into a unicorn,” said snow sculptor Jeff Schmalenberg. “It’s nice to be outside for many hours during the day. Everybody is super friendly and cool. We all talk and hang out and encourage one another. It’s a really nice community.”

While many of the winter festivals inn metro Detroit had to make adjustments due to the warm weather, there was plenty of snow and cold temperatures here.

“The weather went sour on us and we’ve been playing the weather,” said snow sculptor Jeff Hoger of Moscow, Idaho. “I’ve been here for about 20 years. I took a 10-year break. This is my first time back in 10 years. The most fun part is hanging out with my buds and meeting new people, talking to folks.”

The Zehnders Snowfest calls itself one of the top snow sculpting events in North America and for good reason. All of the larger than life sculptures begin with a miniature model inside a display case.

“It’s going to be a crocodile sitting on a lawn chair enjoying a 5 o’clock Happy Hour,” said snow sculptor Brian Conger. “The most fun part is the camaraderie of our friends.”

Award-winning certified master ice sculptor Greg Butauski and his team created four ice sculptures–one for each of the Detroit sports teams including the Red Wings, the Tigers, the Pistons and the Lions.   They also created a news desk for WNEM-TV 5. It was all made using 100 blocks of ice.

“I think it’s really cool,” said attendee Elizabeth Snyder from Dayton, Ohio. “We were really hoping that it would cool down when our visit came here. I like that it started snowing. It kind of adds to the ambience. I’ve been really impressed by all of the artistic talent that you see with the ice sculpting and the snow sculpting. We all agree that the dragon was the one that we thought was the coolest.”

Attendees enjoyed chicken bowling further down Main Street in front of the Frankenmuth Chamber. It was lots of fun for the little ones.

“The goldfish ice sculpture was very graceful and very well executed I thought,” added attendee Noelle Stiekes from Brownstown, Mich.

Kid also had the chance to feed camels and other animals at then petting zoo located near the Frankenmuth Toy Company. There was even a merry-go-round next to the warming tent.

“It’s pretty fun so far,” said Andrew McKenzie from Lake Orion, Mich. “I like the dragon snow sculpture. The ice sculptures are pretty cool. I like the one that looks like a frog.”

His girlfriend, Josie Coleman from Flint, added: “I like all of the sculptures and everything. I like the dwarf Odin. I prefer like winter. I think its nice and cool. It helps with the sculptures and everything.”

Friday was country night inside the warming tent. 98 KCQ hosted its annual Karaoke Contest Finals competition. There were four finalists in the junior division and five for the adult division. When all was said and done, Danielle Harper won the junior division with her performance of “Put Your Records On.” Then, Codi Follen won the adult divison with his rendition of “Ol’ Red.”

The Zehnder’s Snowfest wraps up this evening. Ice sculptures will remain on display beyond the festival as long as the temperatures stay cold.

For more information about the Zehnder’s Snowfest, visit

Attendees checking out the snow sculptures at the 2017 Zehnder’s Snowfest. (Cory Martin/AmericaJR)


A boy plays frozen chicken bowling at the 2017 Zehnder’s Snowfest. (Cory Martin/AmericaJR)


One of four ice sculptures celebrating Detroit sports teams by award-winning master ice sculptor Greg Butauski. (Cory Martin/AmericaJR)


98 KCQ’s Barb Sheltraw with the four junior finalists from the karaoke competition on Friday evening. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Danielle Harper from Sebewaing, Mich. won the junior divison of the 98 KCQ Karaoke Finals with her performance of “Put Your Records On.” (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


98 KCQ’s Jim Kramer with the five adult finalists from the karaoke competition on Friday evening. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Codi Follen of Grand Blanc, Mich. won the adult divison of the KCQ Karaoke Finals with his rendition of “Ol’ Red.” (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


This Goldfish ice sculpture was a fan favorite among the visitors. (Cory Martin/AmericaJR)

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