23rd annual Zhender's Snowfest kicks off Wednesday - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

23rd annual Zhender's Snowfest kicks off Wednesday

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FRANKENMUTH (WJRT) -

(01/22/14) - The 23rd annual Zhender's Snowfest kicked off on Wednesday.

Snow sculptor Al Foster doesn't mind getting a little sweaty in sub zero temperatures.

"I'm feeling pretty good. If you're working, you're warm," he said.

The Flint resident was one of a handful of sculptors and carvers that worked overnight in Frankenmuth, getting ready for opening day of Zhender's Snowfest. The event began with a rather frigid start - but not the coldest in it's 23-year history.

"I think back to 1999, 2000, the high for the entire weekend was seven degrees, so this is kind of balmy," said John Shelton, Zhender's Snowfest director.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to drop by the 'Muth this weekend for what has become one of the world's largest international sculpting and carving competitions. Snowfest has attracted teams from as far away as Mexico and France. Let's just say, empty hotel rooms won't be easy to find.

"This rivals some of our biggest weekends in the summer and fall, so it's had a significant impact on our businesses," Shelton said.

Organizers are planning plenty of distractions for all of those visitors that might need a break from elements.

"Fireworks on Saturday, petting zoo, face painting, Radio Disney is here," Shelton said.

Master Ice Carver Greg Butkauski doesn't mind the arctic blast. He's plowing full steam ahead on his 134 block project.

"It's a Pure Michigan theme. We're going to the Mackinac Bridge, we'll throw some Detroit Tigers in there, a Ford Model T, and wildlife native of the Michigan area," he said.

As for Foster, he's a three time Snowfest champion - working on a piece that he hopes will earn him victory number four.

"We've got Batman and the Joker. The Joker is going to be holding a bomb. A lot of action going on," he said.

Zhender's Snowfest runs through Sunday in Frankenmuth.

For a schedule of events, click HERE.

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