“Make way for the true kings of the Winter Carnival!” Vulcans bellowed excitedly as they circled the snow sculpture competition on a red fire truck dressed in their signature blazing red. Earlier this January the competition was cancelled due to lack of funds. The Vulcans came to the rescue with funds and a new location for the event: the State Fairgrounds.
The legend of the Fire King and his Vulcan Krewe has been around since the first Winter Carnival in 1886. The king’s name has changed slightly over the years, but in 1940, Fire King Rex had his Krewe ride on a red fire truck and that has remained their chosen chariot. According to legend, the Vulcans are antagonists of Boreas, King of the Winds.
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The Vulcans certainly chased away Boreas on January 20, just in time for sculpture judging. A beautiful day, with glittering snow and temps in the upper 30s, brought out a good crowd. A long line formed for free hotdogs, as photos were taken with grinning Vulcans.
The prize-winning sculpture was a spunky robot, “Rocket Man” with a lightning bolt on his chest. This spark of fun was created by Jon Baller, Joseph Hauwiller Jr., and Curt Cook. Second place stepped back into childhood with an intricate tree fort and curious young siblings. The delicacy of carved wood grain made you want to climb up. The response circulating in the crowd was that it might have gotten first if it was positioned differently; it seemed like the back was facing the crowd. “I’m Telling Mom (tree house)” was carved by Jim Baller, Bob Baller, and Judy Grufman. Third place and Artist’s Choice award, “Dream Hunt” had a Native American teepee with a dreamer inside. A wolf pup playfully tries to wake the hunter to a Buffalo lingering outside. This whimsical display was carved by Tim Trost, Jared Trost, and Jim Krueger.
One more award, which aroused laughter from the crowd, was the Vulcan’s Choice award. “Vulcanopus” was the obvious choice with the head of a Vulcan and body of an Octopus. It may not have had eight arms, but it had the right message. This twisty feat was sculpted by Shelly Kohler, Dan and Jenni Ratté, and Peter Jaworski.
The carnival runs until February 3, so bundle up and head on over to the State Fairgrounds to check out the snow sculptures, or to Rice Park to shake hands with a Vulcan, rent some skates or just fill up on Tater-Tot Hot Dish and hot chocolate.