UVM Students Save the Ice Sculpture Contest

UVMFrom Burlington Free Press – January 25th, 2007…

Earlier this month, the city’s Park and Recreation Department announced dolefully that the popular snow-sculpting contest would not be part of this year’s Winter Festival on Feb. 10.

The reason? The city’s budget crunch. Under the new austerity imposed by Mayor Bob Kiss and Chief Administrative Office Jonathan Leopold, the roughly $10,000 the city gave in the past to the Winter Festival wasn’t going to be available.

Students in Dr. Lynn Gregory’s graduate/under-graduate event-planning class at the University of Vermont saw the meltdown of the sculpting contest as a challenge, and they began a project to save it. They’ve succeeded.

“This is a stellar group,” Gregory said of the 26 students in her class. “They have really stepped up and have worked a lot of hours to make this happen.”

She observed that while planning for events like snow sculpting can take a year, the students over the last month havepulled together sponsorship from Chittenden Bank and have found four Vermont sculptors who will come to town for the internationally sanctioned contest. Winners from Burlington’s and Bennington’s contests will compete next year in Burlington, with the winner going to the national competition in 2008.

Gregory said the sculptors will begin carving their blocks of snow on the Church Street Marketplace (if the weather cooperates) on Thursday or Friday Feb. 8 or Feb. 9, and the contest judging will take place Feb. 10.on SaturdayShe said the short amount of time the students had to make arrangements precluded bringing in more sculptors, but the number could increase next year.

The students have arranged with the New England Culinary Institute to hold a chili cook-off Feb. 10 at the Waterfront, so residents who make the trip to the lake to watch the Penguin Plunge at 11 a.m. — with Mayor Bob Kiss starring as the lead swimmer — can warm themselves with a bowl or two of chili for a nominal price.

A big congrats to Gregory’s class for succeeding where the city couldn’t. I thought it should be possible to still have the event without taxpayer’s money. You would think that with all the connections the city officials and CEDO have, they should have easily been able to find the sponsors to pick up the tab.

It has been suggested previously to have college students solve other city problems such as the budget… perhaps the city council should give this another thought. Who knows what other problems could be solved by college students.

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