For the fourth-straight year, Meridian chef Rich Brown won the top prize at the Idaho state snow sculpting competition in McCall, creating a 14-foot circus elephant in just three days.
The McCall competition is one of two sculpting contests held at the winter carnival each year. Local businesses host a themed contest, the state competition is later in the week. Brown took part in both and picked up first prize in the state competition.
He and his two teammates chose to sculpt a circus elephant. "It turned out very well," says Brown.
In this competition, artists can't use power tools or chicken wire. Brown says it's all hand tools and sweat. "[Sculptors use] hand saws, chisels, rasps, a saw made of cable or chain, very ingenious," says Brown. He also uses an antique 5-foot saw with really big teeth.
Brown's been "doing snow" as he calls it, since 2007. But he learned how to ice sculpt 27-years-ago while working in hotel kitchens.
He even worked for an ice-carving company in Chicago. Now, Brown is a chef at the Touchmark retirement community in Meridian.
When he's not cooking, he's carving ice for parties and weddings.
As the winner of the state competition, Brown is qualified to go to nationals, but he doesn't have the money to go. And the national competition happens at the same time as next year's McCall Carnival, something Brown says he doesn't plan to miss.
"The creativity and the camaraderie, it's almost like a family, most of the teams have been doing it for years," he says, "it is a lot of fun."
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