ELY, Minn. — Preparations are underway for the ten-day Ely Winter Festival being held February 1-10, 2008 in Ely, Minnesota. The cornerstone of the festival is the International Snow Sculpting Symposium in Whiteside Park with 20 “amateur” blocks and 20 large “expert” blocks each carved by a three-person team.

“Snow carvers come from all over the world to participate in the Symposium,” said Barb Hall, one of the volunteer coordinators of the event. “The carvings are breathtaking and just get more so each year.”

Ely Winter Festival New to the Festival are winterized vendors in the park selling hot food and winter craft items. Visitors are able to watch and visit with the carvers as they create their art the first weekend of the Festival.

The town also becomes a veritable art gallery, as merchants clear their windows to display local artists’ works in the Ely ArtWalk ( which runs congruent with the Festival.

There are events for all ages, abilities and interests ranging from Sled Dog Rides to Snowmobile Races to Cross-Country Ski Races to Crafts Fairs to Snowbear Building and Wolf Howling Contests to musical and art events.

On Saturday afternoon, February 2, award-winning bluegrass band “Gold Wing Express” direct from Branson, Missouri, performs in concert to benefit the local hospice organization. Then, Saturday night, the Lamont Cranston Band will be playing at the Mukluk Ball, emceed by Patti Steger and Minneapolis radio personality Don Shelby.

On Friday, February 8, Duluth musical group “Warm Women of the North” performs in a music and poetry concert.

The Festival Headquarters is the Front Porch Coffee and Tea Company, where Festival Pins, brochures and information is available. The headquarters has free Wi-Fi(R) for customers’ laptops and computer rental time available.

Up-to-the-minute details on events, as well as pins and other Festival paraphernalia can be obtained from the Festival’s website.

This event is made possible in part through support from the Donald G. Gardner Humanities Trust and the Ely Chamber of Commerce ( Ely Winter Festival is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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