Superior hopes new ice wall will draw winter tourists
The city of Superior is looking for vendors willing to take a chance on a unique attraction coming to Barker's Island in February. Whether they sell hot cocoa or other hot beverages, or sell mittens and other winter garments to help visitors stay...
The city of Superior is looking for vendors willing to take a chance on a unique attraction coming to Barker’s Island in February.
Whether they sell hot cocoa or other hot beverages, or sell mittens and other winter garments to help visitors stay warm, the city is looking for vendors to complement the ice wall to be created on the northwest end of the island.
The city has four 2,000-square-foot sites adjacent to parking and across from the planned wall, near the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve buildings on the island. Be warned: Vendors will need to generate their own power on the sites.
“It has some twists and turns because we’ve never done this before,” said Mary Morgan, the city’s parks, recreation and forestry director. For example, she said, it’s not known how many people will be drawn to the island to get a look at the ice sculpture or what the earning potential would be for vendors setting up shop.
The Superior City Council in September approved a three-year contract with “Ice Man” Roger Hanson of Big Lake, Minn., to create a wall of ice about 90 feet wide and 70 feet tall stretching from the pavilion to the forest at Barker’s Island Festival Park. The texturized ice sculpture will be lit for night viewing.
Hanson has been perfecting his technique for seven years in his own backyard, drawing people from as far away as Texas, according to comments on his website.
The ice wall is formed by streaming water onto a steel cable from a software-controlled robotic sprayer. The process involves specialized computer software, nozzles, rigging, circuit boards and sprayers designed by Hanson, as well as seismic sensors and strain gauges. The resulting sculptures, weighing in at about 6 million pounds, have caught the eye of passersby and captured national media attention.
Now the city is looking for vendors who may want to capture business from those potential crowds.
“We’re looking for food, non-alcoholic beverage and retail vendors to forward a proposal to us,” Morgan said.
The proposal will consist of a minimum of $1,000 rental fee to operate Feb. 2-28 on the island.
“The unknown for vendors is we don’t know if we’re going to get 20 people to come and see this thing, or 120,000,” Morgan said. “Vendors will be taking a small risk when they sign up, but according to Mr. Hanson, he had several hundred people come to his home daily. Once it was featured on the “Today” show, it kind of went viral. It could be that we have significant traffic on the northwest end of Barker’s Island.”
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore experienced a similar surge in visitors last winter when the ice-coated mainland sea caves put on a spectacular winter show, bringing more than 100,000 visitors to the shoreline off Cornucopia, and a $10 million to $12 million economic boost to the local economy.
“We have sat down with our traffic sergeant and we are preparing a one-way loop onto and off of that end of the island,” Morgan said. She said there will also be a pedestrian corridor and overflow parking at the boat launch parking area to accommodate visitors.
“Assuming we get more than four interested vendors, then we will be evaluating and ranking the proposals,” said Linda Cadotte, the city’s contract analyst. She said the goal is to provide visitors with a variety of vendors that are a good fit for the ice sculpture and the people who visit. The proposals also will be ranked based on providing the public with a good deal and availability during regular park hours, 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The more available a vendor, is the better the ranking, Cadotte said.
To receive a copy of the request for proposals, contact Cadotte at (715) 395-7557 or email@example.com .