HISTORY AND BENEFITS
The BP World Ice Art Championships are an important celebration of spring in interior Alaska. Such gatherings, in March, date back to the thirties, when residents emerged from the long winter with an eye for having some fun. Current residents differ little from their winter weary predecessors, but with the advent of airline transportation – visitors from all over Alaska and the World can join the celebration.
Ice Alaska is in its 26th year hosting one of the largest annual ice art competitions and exhibitions worldwide. The Fairbanks event, the BP World Ice Art Championships, has grown from a one-week, 8-team competition in 1990, to a month-long attraction involving over 70 teams from all over the world. The competitions, and the accompanying kids park, attract more than 100 ice artists and approximately 45,000 visitors from Alaska and all over the world. The efforts of more than 300 volunteers, and support from over 100 local businesses and community organizations have made all this possible.
In 1995, the event moved to the middle of Fairbanks, off Phillips Field Road. Ice Park spent 16 years on Alaska Railroad property until a final relocation nearby to 25 acers purchased as a permanent Ice Park – a perfect size and location for the sculpting event and kids park. The park includes O’Grady Pond Too, where volunteers harvest the large blocks of exceptionally clear ice which the artists have nicknamed “The Arctic Diamond.” Ice Park also has enough large trees that beautifully shade sculpting sites for the Single Block Classic and an open area with a backdrop of trees to shade the huge Multi-Block sculptures. The center open space of the park is perfect for the main concession area, kids park slides and ice skating rink.
The BP World Ice Art Championships provide an opportunity to appreciate breathtaking art and learn about many cultures, since typically one-third of the sculptors and many visitors are of international origin. Ice Alaska has developed programs for teaching ice sculpting in the local schools, and the interactive ice culptures in the kids park are often designed to provide an educational benefit. The Ice Park is a common destination for school field trips and art classes.
The entire Fairbanks community benefits from the increase in winter economicactivity and tourism during the month of March. Ice Alaska alone spends about $600,000 locally, for equipment rental, fuel oil, gasoline, food, lodging, printing booklets, chain saw servicing, and other commodities. Ice Alaska has also become an exporter of ice. Fairbanks has the cold temperatures which grow thick, natural ice and has invented impressive harvest techniques. Locally grown ice is exported annually to Anchorage and has been shipped to the Bahamas and as far as Israel. Involvement in Ice Alaska’s activities at the BP World Ice Art Championships as a sculptor, a volunteer, or as a visitor to the park and kids park, provides healthy, family-centered outdoor activity. We sincerely hope you enjoy the magic of Ice Park and the spring sunshine that breathes new life into our beautiful community.