ELY, Minn. (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — The Ely Winter Festival board has announced the dates of the 17th annual Festival to be February 3 – 13, 2011. The 10-day Festival will include events for the whole family, outdoors enthusiasts, art lovers, and even those who think that they don’t enjoy winter weather.

The cornerstone of the Festival will be the International Snow Sculpting Symposium, a gathering of about 60 snow sculptors – local, national, and international – who will form teams to sculpt blocks of snow in sizes ranging from eight foot square to one 30 foot long block. Northern Lakes Arts Association will also oversee a simultaneous amateur snow carving contest.

“The ‘pro’ carvers love to come and participate in the Symposium each year because it is a sharing of ideas and techniques and not a contest,” said Chris Ellerbroek, Symposium Director. “We’re lucky the event draws the amazing talent that it does, because the carvings are a draw for people from all around the country. If the weather holds, we’ll see people walking around the park taking pictures, not only during the Festival, but for weeks afterwards.”

Other planned events range from the annual Mukluk Ball sponsored by Steger Mukluks, Sled Dog Rides, and historic Voyageur Encampment, to a crafts fair, food events, and musical concerts.

The Ely ArtWalk, which turns Ely’s downtown area into a veritable art gallery, with merchants clearing their windows to display local artists’ works, will run concurrently with the Festival. Over 450 pieces of art by 120 artists were displayed last year.

“Between the ArtWalk and the Ely Winter Festival, our sleepy town is bustling with visitors. Between the blue sky, sunshine and pristine snow, you hardly notice the temperature,” said Ellerbroek.

Details on events and Festival news can be found at Of special interest is the gallery, containing video and still shots of past years’ snow sculptures.

The Ely Winter Festival is a non-profit organization whose activities are made possible in part by grants from the Ely Chamber of Commerce, Iron Range Resources, and Arrowhead Regional Arts Council through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature, as well as local sponsors.

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