After 32 hours of intense sawing, chiseling and sculpting to create giant works of art made entirely out of ice, the second annual Great Lakes International Ice Carving Competition bestowed top honors to Ross and Antonio Baisas of Quebec. The Canadian brothers won first place with a score of 96.77 with their sculpture, titled "Portrait of Love."
The Great Lakes International Ice Carving Competition featured 11 two-person professional ice-carving teams representing five countries and seven states. Under the auspices of the National Ice Carving Association, the international duos competed for $10,000 in cash prizes over the three-day competition.
Each team was given 32 hours and 4,800 pounds of ice (one 3,000 pound block and six 300 pound blocks) to create a cohesive design. The length of time given allowed teams the opportunity to complete complex designs on a huge scale.
Ken Diederich of the National Ice Carving Association acted as one of the judges and announced the top five winners from the competition Sunday night:
Ross Baisas is a renowned ice carver and winner of multiple international ice-carving competitions. He is currently employed at Casino de Montreal. In 2014, he and his brother, Tony, won the eighth International Ice Sculpture Festival in Poznań, Poland. Antonio Baisas is a Canadian decorator and kitchen artist at Casino du Lac-Leamy Gatineau in Quebec. Together with his brother, he took second place in the Winterlude competition in Ottawa in 2013, where he represented the Philippines.
This competition was held inside the Igloo Building (Family Entertainment Complex) on the Hamburg Fairgrounds. After undergoing extensive insulation and cooling renovations, the carvers were treated to an enclosed space that remained a constant 26 degrees.
The Great Lakes International Ice Carving Competition is the only competition in the U.S. to be held indoors. The chilled space allows for more intricate designs - and for the pieces to remain on display throughout the run of the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights, which is open from 5-9 p.m. Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-23. Admission to the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights is $25 per carload at the gate.
The Erie County Agricultural Society sponsored the Great Lakes International Ice Caving Competition. For more information, visit www.FairgroundsHoliday.com.