Ely Winter Festival to feature snow sculptors, beard contest

The event is Feb. 3-13.

Ely Winter Festival
A dragon snow sculpture displayed in Ely makes its debut in the festival's sculpture symposium.
Contributed / Ely Winter Festival

ELY — The 29th Winter Festival is set to introduce a winter wonderland complete with snow-sculpting demonstrations, an art walk and beard contest.

The event takes place Feb. 3-13 on 423 E. Sheridan St. Coordinator Shauna Vega said the festival brings the community together.

"Almost every business in town is a sponsor of the event," Vega said. "Almost every single business is involved in one way or another."

The festival's biggest attraction is its sculpting symposium. Vega said sculptors from across the globe, including Germany and Argentina, are visiting Minnesota.

"We have a lot of snow, a lot of ice — it's a great time to come to Ely," Vega said. "I hope to just bring people out to bring some sense of normalcy in the middle of the pandemic."


Everyone is welcome to compete for prizes in the amateur snow sculpting contest. Families, individuals and groups will carve their sculptures Jan. 31 to Feb. 5 at Whiteside Park. To reserve one of the 20 available 4-by-4-foot snow blocks, visit

The Great Nordic Beardfest will be held Feb. 4-5 at Boathouse Brewpub and at Ely’s Historic State Theater. There are several contest categories, including Mustache, Full Beard Natural, Bearded Lady and more. Steven Sokela and The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank will perform Feb. 4 and Charlie Parr, Black-Eyed Snakes and Waffle House Melee will play Feb. 5. Register for the contest at

Festival organizers said they are still in need of volunteers and urge people to sign up as soon as possible. For more festival information, go to

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