Over 20 snow carvers on eight international teams have spent hours sawing, cutting and sculpting snow into intricate designs for the 47th annual Festival du Voyageur.
Each winter since 1970, St. Boniface has turned into a winter wonderland to celebrate the voyageur way of life, and to promote French language and Métis culture. And the celebration wouldn't be as magical without its towering snowy designs on the festival grounds and in Whittier Park.
Artists submit design proposals every fall. A committee with the festival selects its favourites and invites sculptors to come and work for four days on their submission.
The artists aren't paid for their time, although the festival does house and feed the carvers. This year there are teams from France, Germany, the United States, Ecuador and the Netherlands.
Gary Tessier, a snow carver and co-ordinator with the International Sculpture Symposium, said the unique creations are easy on the eyes.
"It's a living entity, as strange as that might sound," Tessier said, referring to the artists' work that is made out of a simple block of snow measuring in at three metres by 3.7 metres by 3.7 metres.
Tessier, whose been carving snow for over 30 years, has had work he and his sons have completed displayed throughout the city. He and his youngest son Andre Vrignon-Tessier carved the "J'ai la tete en gigue" sculpture on the boulevard at Marion Street and St Mary's Road. His other son Denis Vrignon-Tessier carved the "Belugas" sculpture at Main Street and Broadway with the help of a few close friends.
Tessier doesn't consider the mild weather in the forecast to threaten the quality of the sculptures. He explained that the recent cold snap came at the right time, when the sculptures were newly carved. After those frigid temperatures swept through, the artwork froze to the core.
At this point, Tessier said he's convinced the sculptures are sturdy enough they could even withstand a few days in above-zero territory before melting significantly.
Festival du Voyageur runs from Feb. 12 to Feb. 21.