Carvers compete at Ice Time FestivalPublished 6:07pm Sunday, February 3, 2013
DOWAGIAC — Mike Evans, of Edwardsburg, dispensed with his trademark New York Mets cap to win his third Ice Time Festival carving crown and $600 on Groundhog Day.
In deference to snowy 20-degree conditions, Evans wore a hooded parka while carving a bird taking wing atop a glittery pedestal sponsored by Leader Publications and Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital.
Only three carvers competed in the timed afternoon carve-off in Beckwith Park.
Judges awarded second place and $300 to Richard Biggs, of South Bend, Ind., and a fish; and third place and $200 to Howard Busfield, of South Bend, and a grandfather clock.
Mennel Milling and Eckman Chiropractic sponsored Biggs’ sculpture.
“I beat the clock!” Biggs quipped.
Vincent J. Jewelers and Dorothy Mottl Realty Group, of Buchanan, backed Busfield.
Judges Sue Watson of the City of Dowagiac and Dogwood Fine Arts Festival; Nora (Hipshear) Mason, Dowagiac Middle School art teacher; and Rachel McLaughlin, Dogwood student member, all praised the detail of Evans’ feathered sculpture.
“The first impression was a big one for me,” Mason said.
“He’s sort of looking straight at you at eye level. His wings are stretched out, so it’s more action, like he’s going to take flight. The detail was really effective. They’re gorgeous. It was really hard.”
To make up for the absence of snow in 2012, it snowed steadily all day Saturday, keeping police and firefighters busy at the Hot Corner toasting s’mores and the chili crawl a popular warm-up activity along with Carvers Cave in Council on Aging’s Front Street Crossing.
New competitor Front Street Café was voted best chili.
Having to keep brushing snow off their creations was the only thing that kept it from being ideal conditions, carvers said.
“We want our sculptures to look nice and clear, but then snow accumulates on top,” Evans said.
“Given the options, I’ll take the snow,” Biggs said, to which Busfield added, “It wasn’t windy. The wind picked up this morning for just a little bit, then stopped.”
Evans won first last year with a seal balancing boxes and, in 2009, with a squid. He captured second in 2011 with a dragonfly and second and carvers’ choice in 2010 with abstract “Waves of Spheres.”
Evans has been carving for 10 years in food service at the University of Notre Dame.
Evans started cutting smaller sculptures at 2:30 a.m. to make sure all the sponsors were satisified.