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Among the many winter activites at the Dells Flake Out Festival is the state's only sanction snow-sculpting competition. (PHOTO: Wis. Dells Visitors and Convention Bureau)

Flake Out Festival brings winter fun to Dells

WISCONSIN DELLS -- During the summer, Wisconsin Dells is a haven for those seeking a little fun in the sun,

Wintertime visitors, in recent years, have been able to do the same, thanks to the steady growth of indoor water parks and sprawling resorts.

But what about traditional winter activities

"It's a great way to get out doors and play in the snow," says Melanie Platt-Gibson, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau. "The Dells is like an inside-out snow globe in the winter."

Highlighting the three-day festival is the annual State Snow Sculpting Competition, featuring 20 teams from across Wisconsin competing for the right to advance to the national competition held next month in Lake Geneva.

Contestants submitted their designs to a jury prior to the competition for approval and you can see a listing of them here. Among some of the plans are a farmer, tractor and a pig; a man balancing items on his nose, a pirate ship and two basketball players, driving to the hoop.

"There are some really unique designs out there," says Platt-Gibson.

The designs will be carved out of a 20 to 30-ton block of snow, about 15-feet on each side. The competition gets underway at 8 a.m. Friday and the winner is announced Sunday at 2 p.m.

The Flake Out Festival includes much more than just snow sculpting.

Families can enjoy the kids corner, with wagon rides, tubing hills, a giant snow pile perfect for climbing, an ice rink or dog weight pulling contests. An arts and crafts fair runs in conjunction with the Flake Out Festival, with items ranging from jewelry and soap to food items and woodworking.

Saturday night, fest-goers can gather around the bonfire and enjoy a fireworks display.

"There is really something for everybody," Platt-Gibson says.

Admission to Flake Out Festival is free, though a separate "Snowpass," available for $5, is required for some activities. The festival runs Friday evening, all day Saturday and again on Sunday afternoon.

If winter festivals aren't you're thing, there plenty of ways to enjoy traditional winter activities in the Dells. Nearby ski hills at Devil's Head and Cascade Mountain offer downhill skiing, tubing and snowboarding opportunities.

Mirror Lake and Devil's Lake State Parks offer cross-country skiers miles of trails and snowmobilers will find plenty of trails in the area, as well.

"There are lots of ways to play outside in the Dells," says Platt-Gibson. "The great part is, it's always 80 degrees and sunny once you get back inside."


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