Those behind the annual ice-sculpting event that takes place during Winterfest hope to make it a sanctioned event for professional sculptors.

The 19th annual Rutland Winterfest is set to begin Saturday and run until Feb. 24. Russ Marsan, co-owner of Carpenter and Costin, a landscaping service in Rutland, said Wednesday this year’s ice sculpting contest will feature a two-day competition between professional sculptors.

On Feb. 22, people will be able to meet the professionals at Hop’n Moose Brewing Co. at 7 p.m. They’ll begin their sculpting starting at 9 a.m. that day at Main Street Park. Carving will begin again on Feb. 23, with everything wrapping up Feb. 24, Marsan said.

He added that the effort to make Winterfest a sanctioned event is in the extreme preliminary stages. Marsan said he means to learn more about what being sanctioned would require.

So far, the list of professionals competing features: Lisa Stevens, Harry Skorstad, John and Glenn Woodard, Dave Rothstein, Joe and Beth Shafner, Stefan Mallette and Tony Perham. They’ll be sculpting blocks of ice 4 feet long, 4 feet wide and 8 feet high. Marsan said the sculptors have been asked and some have agreed to do sculptures following the theme of Disney/Pixar movies.

Amateur sculptors will have their chance from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 23, also at Main Street Park, Marsan said.

Numerous local businesses, nonprofits and city departments will work together to put on a Winterfest event each day between Saturday and Feb. 24.

“I think the sledding on Tuesday will be pretty awesome,” said Andy Paluch, executive director of Come Alive Outside, a nonprofit that aims to improve public health by encouraging involvement with outdoor activities.

On Feb. 19, on Center Street between Court Street and Wales Street, the street will be covered in snow and open to sledding. This is the fourth year there’s been sledding on Center Street. Kim Peters, superintendent of Rutland Recreation and Parks Department, said Killington Ski Resort has lent some of its tubes for the occasion, which improves a bit every year.

“This is something that the entire community owns and continues to create,” Paluch said in a statement. “It has grown and evolved through collaboration and each year gets bigger and better as different organizations step up to take the lead on various parts.”

Collaboration has been key to Winterfest’s success, said April Cioffi, of the recreation department. “I love how people have built on our successes from the past and brought new ideas to the table each year,” she said. “The fact that no one organization ‘owns’ Rutland Winterfest is one of its greatest strengths — it allows anyone with an idea and the willingness to get involved to build on the framework and expand the offerings.”

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com

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