Global News Winnipeg — It’s going to be a spectacle when it’s done, until then there is a lot of hard work going into the new Icetival ice show coming to The Forks in a matter of weeks. However, the crew of artists from China have already hit their first roadblock.
“They’re taking the snow off the ice because the ice is not that thick yet,” said Organizer Andy Zhao, who is bringing the ice show done in China every winter to Winnipeg. One problem though, the Red River near The Forks, where they were going to get the ice from, hasn’t frozen over yet. “I never think that would happen in Winnipeg to be honest with you,” said Zhao.
So the team of 40 artists have to drive 30 minutes away to a gravel pit near Birds Hill Provincial Park to first shovel snow off of a pond, then cut the ice into chunks and haul it to Winnipeg. “I’ve been in the gravel business for 30 years and I’ve never had anyone come take our ice,” laughs Don Taras with Taras Gravel Supplies.
They’ll begin cutting into the 24 inch thick ice Tuesday and organizers are serious when they say the process will be similar to the ice workers on the movie Frozen. “The ice will automatically start floating on the water,” said Zhao, “then they use a special tool to get the ice off. Exactly the same (as the movie) just we’re using a big chainsaw and they use a man saw.”
“We have a set of forks with the skid steer and we’ll just load them up and place them on a flat deck,” said Taras. Taras and his crew will haul more than 100 semi-loads of ice to The Forks in the coming weeks and the artists will work 16 hour days. “We never think we’re going to do that, it’s really a surprise to us that Winnipeg never have a frozen river,” said Zhao.
They haven’t started building yet and the event has already cost the organizers half a million dollars. That includes planning the event and bring the artists to Canada, that doesn’t include hauling chunks of ice to The Forks. “Our budget is based on, we have the ice in the river so we don’t really know what the final number is yet. I think it will increase significantly,” said Zhao.
Despite this set back, the Icetival will still open in mid-January. On weekends they plan to have fireworks and live Dj’s and bands..